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New Mexico Trails

Santa Fe, NM: Rito Del Padre-Chimayosos Loop

Venture deep into the Pecos Wilderness on this 23.7-mile, three-day hike into a cirque of high peaks in the Sangre de Cristos.

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Though it starts on a well-trodden path, this gorgeous mountain trek around Cerrito del Padre to the base of Chimayosos Peak fades into a short route-finding challenge for adventurous backpackers.

Head northeast from the Iron Gate Trailhead and climb to Hamilton Mesa. Descend to the Pecos River, passing Beatty’s Cabin, and cross the river at mile 5.8. From here, continue north to follow the sometimes swampy trail along the Rito del Padre. On the east side of Cerrito del Padre, tackle a stiff climb out of the drainage at mile 8.3 and continue uphill through conifers on Trail 25; there’s a good campsite when the trail crosses the Rito again at mile 9.25.

The next day, continue north to the foot of Chimayosos Peak on drier trail. Take in views of the 13,000-foot Truchas Peaks as you traverse the treeline west at the base before cutting south on Trail 257 at mile 12.25. Trail 246 fades on the western flanks of Cerrito del Padre before meeting the start of the loop; don’t attempt this unless you have good route-finding skills and a sense of adventure. Camp 2 is on the far side of this stretch at mile 16.

Mapped by Bill Velasquez

Santa Fe Gas

Chevron – St Francis Plaza
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505

Conoco Phillips
215 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe Gear

500 Market Street #100
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works
328 S. Guadalupe St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Santa Fe Groceries

Kaune’s Neighborhood Market
511 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Whole Foods Market
753 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Santa Fe Restaurants

Back Road Pizza
1807 2nd St # 1
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Aztec Café
317 Aztec

Five & Dime General Store
58 E. San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 26.9



Location: 35.840389, -105.620499

Iron Gate Trailhead: Locate trailhead at north end of campground. Cross wilderness boundary and start with initial gentle climb up Trail 249.


Location: 35.83979, -105.616096

Trail levels out. Proceed north at intersection (stay on 249) and follow dusty trail as it clings to hillside.


Location: 35.847519, -105.6119

Trail divides. Follow upper trail; lower trail goes to Mora Flats.


Location: 35.85664, -105.603104

Pass through gate and break out of tree cover onto Hamilton Mesa, with 360-degree views.


Location: 35.882832, -105.593697

Leave Hamilton Mesa and drop down hillside on gentle grade through small meadows and aspen groves on Trail 260.


Location: 35.899929, -105.6008

Pass through cattle gate near Bob Grounds Trail intersection as you continue descent. Trees break occasionally to reveal views of grassy hillside to the east. Keep an eye out for views of Beatty’s Cabin.


Location: 35.90707, -105.5989

24 Intersection: Cross over Pecos River footbridge to grassy meadow. This is a no-camping zone. Native trout flourish in wild river.


Location: 35.90797, -105.598396

24-25 Intersection: Stay on Trail 25 as you leave meadow near rocky outcrop and travel up stream.


Location: 35.92244, -105.599197

25-246 Intersection: Steep climb from river crossing to the common point of this loop. Lollipop stick ends, loop starts. Go right to stay on 25.


Location: 35.933498, -105.590302

25-239 Intersection: Travel mucky trail up Rito Del Padre (left).


Location: 35.94838, -105.5979

Camp 1: Trail crosses rito in opening surrounded by mixed conifer and skunk cabbage with views of the surrounding peaks. This is the last reliable water source before reaching Skyline Trail and good place to spend the night.


Location: 35.969952, -105.604897

25-251 Intersection: Steep climb through jumbled downfall reveals Skyline Trail at the base of Chimayosos Peak. Turn left to head west on 251.


Location: 35.968441, -105.614197

Trail splits. Follow lower trail toward Truchas Lake (stay with 251). Upper leads to Santa Barbara Divide.


Location: 35.972641, -105.6194

Follow faint path and small cairns as you head downhill on Trail 257. Optional: Follow Trail 251 for a side trip to Truchas Lake.


Location: 35.960339, -105.619797

257-246 Intersection: Bear left onto 246. Trail becomes faint in spots and hard to follow. Keep an eye out for blazes for 246 as you negotiate deadfall. Route-finding skills required.


Location: 35.93066, -105.6045

Trail splits, but rejoins itself. Higher trail avoids drop to river.


Location: 35.93021, -105.604599

246-264 Intersection: Rito Azul rushes in to join Rito Chimaysos as white water tumbles over rocky sections. Go straight to stay on Trail 246.


Location: 35.929081, -105.604599

Camp 2: High flat spot nestled between grassy shelf and roaring rito provides excellent location for second camp. Clear views of stars at night will keep you enthralled. Return to Waypoint 1 the next day.

Truchas Peaks

Location: 35.969646, -105.609032

Views to the east

Trail Riders Wall and Pecos Baldy

Location: 35.968876, -105.61087

Views to the southeast


Location: 35.960434, -105.619545

Large cairn marks trail intersection

Truchas Peaks

Location: 35.942841, -105.601837

Looking back through the storm (frequent in summer) to the Truchas Peaks

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