Window Rock

Distance: 8 miles

Water: No water

Season: Fall, Winter, Spring

Trail Condition: Good


This is a unique hike, between Espanola and Abiquiu, that starts in an arroyo and climbs into pinyon-juniper forest as the Jemez Mountains peter out to the north.

Start at a small parking area on the west side of US-84 a half mile past mile marker 200. An access road follows the power line, but for a more pleasant start to the hike, continue straight through the gate to single-track that steers southeast to the arroyo.

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View of Window Rock from the final approach

Once you hit the arroyo, follow it upstream for about 1.5 miles. You can cross over the stream banks or just remain in the arroyo. It’s hard to avoid the sandy, difficult-to-walk-in soil, so I’ve found it best to just stick to the stream bed.

After about a mile, you will see strange, rounded formations on the left bank of the arroyo. These rounded features are the result of particles of sand being blow and stuck together.

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Shortly after the the rounded sandstone features, there will be a marked trail climbing out of the arroyo on the left. The BLM trail signs appeared to be new as of Spring 2018.

After this short, steep section, the trail traverses the east side of the arroyo and eventually crosses over to the west. This section of the hike offers great views toward the Sangre de Cristo as well as north toward Tres Piedras.

Once it crosses to the west side of the arroyo, the trail climbs to the top of another plateau where pinyon and juniper become the dominant vegetation. Views of the Window Rock feature come into view quickly as the trail descends towards a large open meadow where there are livestock corrals and tanks.

Here, I often leave the trail before reaching the meadow. The Window Rock is fully visible, and the final trail to the feature is on the left side of the large rock fin. Due to the wide-open nature of the terrain, it is fairly easy to navigate toward the final approach to the Window.

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Window Rock before the final approach

You will also pass clusters of large ponderosa pines that seem a bit out of place considering the poor soil, limited vegetation, and lack of water. Enjoy these views and be sure to dodge the many cactus that dot the ground.

The final approach on the west side of the Window is extremely steep and the trail’s footing is slightly loose. Be careful, but considering how close you are, the final push is more than worth it.

Once you’ve reached the window, enjoy the views to the northeast as well as behind you where the Jemez plateau rises up toward the Valles Caldera.

Return the way you came.

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