The Rio Molina Trail is 7.2 mile trail that begins at the Borrego Trail – Trail #150 and ends at the Agua Sarca Trail – Trail #228.
Trail Condition: Moderate to Poor
Borrego Trail to Rito Quemado Trail
From the trail junction with the Borrego Trail – Trail #150 take a sharp left to follow the Rio Molina Trail. The trail is faint, and at first, I was doubtful it would last long, but it is surprisingly durable. The trail climbs steeply for the first 1/3 mile or so before taking a brief downhill turn and resuming its climb. The trail will continue to climb until reaching the crest of ridge that divides the Rito Gallina from the Rito Quemado. From here, the trail turns right and continues to climb. Steep at first, but for varying stretches here and there, it flattens out and is quite pleasant.
The trail continues, intermittently climbing and remaining flat. It follows the ridge, almost perfectly for the first 3 miles, so even though it fades here and there, it is fairly easy to remain on the the trail. There are a mix of rock cairns, faded orange flagging and cut trees, which are always my favorite sign of a faded trail.
Eventually, you will pass a trail sign that indicates, as you would hope, that you are following Trail #227. Shortly after this sign, as the trail climbs to the top of a small knob, the trail begins to fade. At this point, you should start to pick up on the trails patterns and be able to make it to the top of the knob with little trouble.
However, from the top of the knob, things get tricky. The trail takes a fairly sharp right turn to follow a flat flank coming of the knob. The cut logs, cairns and flagging seem to disappear. I wondered around, traversing back and forth, before picking up the trail again. It fades in and out, but you should be able to follow it until it descends into a small, grassy gulch.
From here, the trail starts its descent to the Rito Quemado. The difficulty here is that the lush understory is much more tenacious than the light foot traffic can contend with. At first, the trail follows the high side of the small gulch, but eventually drops to the bottom before reaching the mouth and turn up and to the right.
At this point, if you are on the trail, it is easy to follow, but it’s also easy to lose the trail. After turning back uphill, the trail takes a small switch back to gain a small ridge before reaching a slightly larger one and making the final descent to the headwaters of the Rito Quemado, which had small trickle on the day I hiked.
After crossing the Rito Quemado, the trail climbs steeply up to the opposite ridge. At the top of the ridge, you will reach the junction with the Rito Quemado Trail – Trail #157.