The Rio en Medio Trail is a 6.7 mile trail. It begins from the trailhead at the end of Santa Fe County Road 590, just past the town of En Medio and ends at a junction with the Winsor Trail – Trail #254 near the Santa Fe Ski basin parking lot.
Trail Conditions: Good to Excellent
SF County 592 to Borrego Trail – Trail #150
From the parking area, continue up the dirt road for 200 yards where the trail begins on the right. The first 1/4 mile passes through private land, so be sure to stay on the trail and leash your dog.
After about 1/2 mile, the trail crosses the Rio en Medio for the first time, passing through a stand of cholla and prickly pear cactus. For the first 1.5 miles to the junction with the Viejo Trail – Trail #179, the Rio en Medio Trail crosses the creek a number of times.
On the whole, the trail is very easy to follow, but some of these crossings can be slightly confusing as there are often social trails that don’t cross the creek remain on the same side. The creek crossings are easy, so just follow the most well-trodden trail.
Note the junction with the Viejo Trail as this will be your return route. The loop can be done in either direction with no clear preference, but I just happened to continue straight to do the hike counter clockwise.
After about 1 mile past the junction with the Viejo Trail, you will reach a steep climb to pass a small cliff band. You will also notice a smaller trail leading into the small canyon. This dead ends after about 100 yards at the waterfall that is the hike’s main attraction. If you haven’t visited the falls before, it is well worth the short detour.
After leaving the falls, return to the main trail and continue up the steep slope. The trail then returns to stream level, but for the next mile, the trail continues to climb at a much steeper grade than the first 2.5 miles.
After crossing the creek a couple times, the trail begins to switchback on the south side of the creek, climbing more than 100 feet above the stream. Pace yourself as this is the toughest part of the hike. Also, the top of this climb offers some of the best views of the hike.
The trail quickly descends back to the stream and for the last 3/4 of a mile to the junction with the Borrego Trail – Trail #150, the trail climbs at a much more civilized grade. The canyon’s geography changes significantly as well. The first few miles were steep and featured many pour-offs. Rocky outcroppings were common and the canyon was tight and narrow. The upper part of the Rio en Medio is wider, gentler and boasts an inviting grassy meadow opposite from the trail.
After about 4.1 miles of hiking, you will reach signed junction with the Borrego Trail.
Borrego Trail – Trail #150 to Aspen Spur Trailhead
From the junction, go right to cross the creek. The trail will begin to climb into a small draw and then begin to switchback steadily, but not steeply uphill. The switchbacks don’t last long before the trail flattens out, wrapping around the hill. Below you, you will see the road and a fenced off area. This is property of the Pueblo of Tesuque.
After about .5 miles, the trail will turn downhill to the road and will pop out on the road 100 yards away from the parking area and trailhead to continue on Trail #163 up to the ski area.
Aspen Spur Trailhead to Winsor Trail – Trail #254
From the trailhead, start past the kiosk uphill. The trail will quickly fork. You can take either route. The right fork is the official trail, but the left fork will be a fun detour along what appears to be an old acequia. If you take this route, follow the trail above the acequia as it completes a large horseshoe around the small rise. Eventually this slightly overgrown path will meet-up with the official trail that goes up and over the small hill.
Once the trails have merged, follow the official Rio en Medio Trail – Trail #163 downhill towards the creek, which should come into earshot around this point. The canyon housing the Rio en Medio is fairly wide at this point, and the small little valle is filled with aspens.
Cross the creek to the north side, and turn right to follow it upstream. The canyon quickly narrows. There are many small pour-offs along the stream, which help make the hike so aesthetically pleasing.
The trail remains on the north side of the stream until the final 1/4 mile. Shortly before this crossing, the trail climbs through a small clearing that provides some views back down the canyon.
The stream eventually splits between two forks and the trail cuts between them. The Rio en Medio Trail ends at a signed junction with the Winsor Trail – Trail #254. Turn around here or continue 1/4 mile up to the ski area by going left at the junction.
Return via the same route. If you are unsure where the stream crossing is at the bottom, look for the widening canyon, the widened creek bed that has been eroded by hikers, riders and bikers, or a small cairn that marks the left turn.