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Capulin Cienega Trail No. 162

Contact Info
Santa Fe National Forest
1710 N. Riverside Drive
Española, NM 87532

Phone:
505-753-7331
Basics
Length:
7 miles
Difficulty:
Difficult
Time:
6 - 7 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
8500 feet
Elevation Range:
8500 feet to 10400 feet
Elevation Change:
1900 feet
Usage:
Light
Season:
Year Round

Description

Trail 162 starts the climb out of the Rio Nambe drainage by following a side canyon and tributary up to the north for about a half-mile. The trail then turns slightly west and climbs steeply up the hillside. The riparian vegetation along the stream is quickly exchanged for Ponderosa Pine and other mixed conifers. Good views of Santa Fe Baldy can often be seen through the trees. After a couple of miles the trail reaches the top of the ridge, and there is a brief downhill interlude before resuming the uphill trend.

After three or four stream crossings, the trail enters a grove of aspens. Here the hiker must be alert for tree blazes to the north in order to continue along Trail 162. The more obvious trail tread at this point continues west along a blazed hunting trail which fades out after a mile, but will eventually connect with the Borrego Trail. The trail tread through the aspen grove on Trail 162 is intermittent, and the visitor should be prepared to spend some time looking for blazes on the trees. The trail switchbacks uphill in a northeastern direction and crosses a meadow above a small canyon tributary. From here, the trail is easier to follow and continues up hill to the top of the ridge.

After crossing the ridge, the trail drops down along the north side and swings eastward toward the headwaters of the Rio Capulin. A large marsh with standing water is encountered after about a mile. The trail can be picked up again by circling around the marsh on the north side and proceeding to the most eastern side. After another quarter mile the trail crosses a branch of the Rio Capulin and enters a small level meadow from which an excellent view of the cirque behind Santa Fe Baldy can be seen. This meadow is at the peak elevation of the trail at 10,400 feet. Another old hunting and animal trail follows the stream up to the cirque. Trail 162 continues at the far north east corner of the meadow. From here the trail follows the stream downhill to its intersection with Trail 158. There are numerous river crossings along the way.

Tour Companies

  • Santa Fe Area
  • Snowshoeing, Hiking
  • 505-660-0394

Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing From alpine to desert, Outspire guides enrich your experience by giving context to your hike. So that your destination is not only what you see, but a sense of where the area fits in New Mexico's history, geology and natural world. Our hiking guides are experienced, enthusiastic, and motivated to share the joy of being outside! Day hikes and winter snowshoe outings are planned to suit your interests and fitness.

Details

Length:
7 miles
Difficulty:
Difficult
Time:
6 - 7 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
8500
Elevation Range:
8500 feet to 10400
Elevation Change:
1900
Usage:
Light
Season:
Year Round
Useful Map(s):
USGS: Aspen Basin and Pecos Wilderness Map
Additional Details:

This challenging trail offers a wide variety of vegetation zones and scenery. There are very few level areas along the way.

The trail climbs rapidly out of the canyon and over a ridge to a climax elevation of 10,400 feet before dropping rapidly back to the Rio Capulin canyon on the other side. The main attraction of this trail is the beautiful meadow at the headwaters of the Rio Capulin.

An excellent view of the Santa Fe Baldy and the cirque below it can be seen from there. This is an infrequently maintained trail and is difficult to find and follow in places.

The climb out of the Rio Nambe canyon is very steep and difficult. There are numerous water sources and many good camping areas can be found along the trail.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

From Santa Fe Ski Basin take the Winsor Trail 254 to the Upper Nambe Trail 101, and the follow it to the Rio Nambe Trail 160. Turn west and follow the Rio Nambe downstream about 2 miles to the intersection of Capulin Cienega 162.

A shorter but more difficult route is to take the very steep Trail 403 directly to the Rio Nambe and follow 160 downstream about ½ mile to the 160/162 junction. Trail 403 is closed to horses. The intersection of Trail 160 and 162 is brushy and can be easy to miss. Look for a trail climbing up a small side canyon to the north.


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