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The Rio Grande Gorge Trail, Larry Hersman

Wed, 2013-11-20

The Rio Grande Gorge, 800 feet deep


At the November meeting of the Los Alamos Mountaineers, Larry Hersman will talk about the future Rio Grande Gorge Trail. The trail is a joint venture of the BLM, Forest Service, the Taos Pueblo, and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps of Taos. Larry writes “It has been my longstanding belief that education is a means to a better future. The purpose of this project is to provide an educational opportunity for the youth of Northern New Mexico by constructing a trail for all of us to experience the wilderness. Wilderness is more than a parcel of land set aside to be preserved and protected from development – it is also a concept of human experience – a place where we allowed go to gain a better understanding of ourselves and Nature.”
“The crew that constructs the Rio Grande Gorge trail will be academically qualified students who struggle to afford a college education. Through their efforts in the Gorge, they will receive financial support for room and board at a college or university.  In addition to financial support, they will receive hands on-experience in the disciplines of geology, ecology, hydrology, and resource management – to name a few.”
The Rio Grande Gorge was one of the original 8 rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, which states:  “Wild rivers are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail.” 
The 18-inch wide trail would be entirely within the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, under the jurisdiction of the Taos office of the BLM. It would stay above the high water mark of the river, and be sensitive to the environmental and cultural aspects of the Gorge (e.g., Bighorn Sheep breeding and lambing areas, springs, native rock art). Hikers would traverse three sections of the river – the Upper Box, the Junta, and the Taos Box – as they moved north to south. The trail would begin at the Chiflo access in the Wild River Park on the east side of the Upper Box. About 3 miles of existing trail in the Upper Box and one mile in the Taos Box would be incorporated.  Crossing the Red River, it would continue south along the east bank until reaching the John Dunn Bridge 16 miles from the start. Crossing the bridge to the west side, it would continue south 15 miles along the Taos Box.  Just before reaching the Taos Junction Bridge, the trail would join the existing La Vista Verde Tail to exit the Gorge onto State Road 567, about a mile from the bridge.  There would be “primitive” campsites, and access trails, at intervals, to the rim. For river runners, the trail would provide a safety escape route.
Hersman notes that in addition to aiding college students, the trail would provide access to one of the natural wonders of New Mexico, and provide jobs related to the Gorge activities (hiking, climbing, fishing and hunting) in Taos Country.
The Mountaineers meeting will start at 7:00 PM in the Great Room of Fuller Lodge with trip reports and trip planning, followed immediately by Hersman's talk.


The Rio Grande from river level.

Trip Location: 
United States
36° 27' 25.848" N, 105° 43' 46.92" W

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