Santa Fe: Rio Santa Barbara Middle Fork Trail

This 15-mile riverside hike is located in the southern tip of New Mexico's highest range, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
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This 15-mile riverside hike is located in the southern tip of New Mexico's highest range, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 12.0

Waypoints

Wilderness Boundary

Location: 36.0696678161621, -105.61156463623

A note about native fish is posted next to the Pecos Wilderness sign.
©Bill Velasquez

Footbridge

Location: 36.065788269043, -105.612396240234

All three forks of the Rio Santa Barbara combine to form this river.
©Bill Velasquez

MF - WF Junction

Location: 36.0574722290039, -105.614891052246

Trail junction sign.
©Bill Velasquez

MF - EF Junction

Location: 36.0300331115723, -105.573173522949

This area is a gateway to the Pecos. ©Bill Velasquez

SBM001

Location: 36.0887489318848, -105.610397338867

Head S from car on campground road to official trailhead

SBM002

Location: 36.0846786499023, -105.609397888184

Gate marks trailhead; continue S along Rio Santa Barbara toward a rock-chiseled divide of the same name

SBM003

Location: 36.0697402954102, -105.611602783203

Cross into Pecos Wilderness, 223,000 acres known for first-rate fishing and lightning-struck peaks

SBM004

Location: 36.065860748291, -105.612297058105

Cross footbridge; steep, craggy cliffs to W

SBM005

Location: 36.0574684143066, -105.614898681641

Keep L, heading upstream along the Middle Fork through aspen groves; mountain views, including Chimayosos Peak, to S

SBM006

Location: 36.0515289306641, -105.609832763672

Climb switchbacks; Trampas Peak to W; bighorn sheep and black bears roam these wildlands

SBM007

Location: 36.0435485839844, -105.59056854248

Keep SE; mostly flat riverside stretch

SBM008

Location: 36.0301399230957, -105.573303222656

River forks again. In grassy meadow (watch for brown trail signs), swing S down steep slope, cross creek, and continue along the Middle Fork

SBM009

Location: 36.0162315368652, -105.576301574707

Trail breaks out of dense forest to unfold panoramic views of surrounding rocky ridges. Good lunch spot and turnaround point. Spurts of rain showers in the afternoon often mean rainbows (keep camera handy)