San Pedro Peaks loop

Distance: 11.5 miles

Water: Yes

Season: Summer, Fall

Trail Conditions: Moderate to Good


Unlike most hikes in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness, this hike requires more climbing than others, but is still much more tame than almost any other New Mexico mountain range. The first miles of this loop through the northeast corner of the Wilderness passes through ponderosa and aspen forest and doesn’t reach the classic, dark spruce forest that characterizes until midway through the hike. Finally, the hike also includes views from the top of the San Pedro Peaks. Although not dramatic, some unique, worthwhile views nevertheless.


Directions:

From Espanola, take US-84 north past Abiquiu. After climbing to the plateau above Abiquiu Dam, turn left onto NM-95 to cross over the dam. Take NM-95 past Youngsville and Coyote before turning left on FR 103. This well-graded road will slowly climb south before reaching a crest where FR 93 forks to the right. Take FR 93 for 2 miles to the Resumidero Campground.

Once you’ve reached the campground, go right at the fork in the road and immediately take a left into the dispersed camping area. Continue to the back of the campground where the two-track road will briefly reenter the forest before reaching a small, signed parking area for the trailhead. Park here.


From the trailhead, pick up the Corralitos Trail – Trail #452, which will start off as a wide, rocky trail and lists slightly to the left. It will quickly narrow into a single track after a sign denoting no motorized vehicles. The trail climbs steadily along the northern banks of the Rito Resumidero. This section passes through ponderosa and aspen forest and tends to be dryer than much of the Wilderness. After about 1/2 mile, you will cross into the Wilderness.

Another 1/2 mile after entering the Wilderness, there will be an unsigned junction. This is where the loop will split. To the left, the Vega Redonda Trail – Trail #43 crosses the creek. You can do the loop in either direction, but on this occasion, I went right to continue on the Corralitos Trail, climbing to the north.

After another 1.25 miles, you’ll reach a meadow and the trail will fade. The junction with the Cecilia Creek Trail – Trail #451 is just on the other side of a small stand of trees. From this junction, the Corralitos Trail goes left. There should be some cairns with wooden posts to help guide you.

After a short while, the trail enters another meadow. Stay high and right as you cross the length of the meadow. The trail fades, but will reappear once you reenter the forest in the northwest corner.

The trail is in good condition. It is easy to follow and there should be very little downfall. It does enter one final meadow. This one is a little trickier because of the juniper and firs that are interspersed throughout. Once again, the trail fades, but if you climb up and to the left, the tread should reappear just behind a wooden post and cairn.

By this point, you have completed the majority of the climbing and shortly after this last meadow, spruce and fir become the dominant overstory. In less than a mile, you will reach the end of the Corralitos Trail where it Ts into the Capulin Trail – Trail #31.

Meadow at the junction with the CDT

Turn left (south) onto to Capulin Trail. At this point, you are on the Continental Divide Trail. The trail continues to climb as the thick forest falls away. Red rock outcroppings intersperse the meadows, but the trail remains easy to follow just the same.

It may be difficult to tell, but the trail is making the final ascent of the San Pedro Peaks (10,592 feet). These peaks are far from dramatic, and if it weren’t for the forest falling it way, it would be easy for them to go unnoticed. However, there are some good views including of Cerro Pedernal to the east.

Cerro Pedernal in the distance

After summiting, the trail slowly descends to a junction with the Penas Negras Trail – Trail #32. Go left and after two hundred yards, you will reach another junction. Continue straight on the Rio Puero Trail – Trail #385. The trail starts out flat, meandering along the southside of Vega del Osa before turning south and descending.

NOTE: The Rito Resumidero is the only good, reliable source of water on the trail. There are numerous other springs that are suitable for dogs, but flow is not reliable enough for human collection.

The trail drops to the very headwaters of the Rito Resumidero and climbs back up into beetle kill forest. The forest is almost completely made up of dead trees and there is some downfall on the trail, but it is easy to bypass. The trail continues to descend after this brief climb, and crosses through a small meadow before popping out above the dramatic Vega Redonda.

There is an unmarked junction here. The Rio Puerco Trail goes straight through the Vega Redonda, but you will pick the Vega Redonda Trail – Trail #43, which goes left through the north end of the meadow. Once again, the tread fades, but drop down into the the dry, grassy gulch and you will start to pick up another set of cairns with wooden sign posts. Follow these for a couple hundred yards until the trail cross to the east side of the gulch and reenters the forest.

View of the Vega Redonda

The trail remains on the edge of the forest and the meadow until it turns right to continue to drop to the Rito Redonda. Once again, you will have entered mature, old growth forest. At this point, the forest floor should be shaded so enjoy the pleasant downhill stroll.

As you approach the Rito Redonda, you should be able to hear to gentle flow of the water. At this point, the trail turns towards the creek, crosses a rocky outcropping, crosses the creek and rejoins the Corralitos Trail. You have completed the loop. Finish the final mile back to the parking lot.

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