The Rio Valdez Trail is a 7.8 mile trail that begins at the junction with the Mora Flats Trail and ends at the Skyline Trail.
Trail Condition: Good to Moderate
From Mora Flats to Bob Grounds, the trail remains in good condition. There are three stream crossings that would have been difficult at the beginning of May due to high flows. It was possible to skirt the crossings by remaining on the west side of the creek, but this required some difficult scrambling. Crossing the stream would have been possible but would have required strong hiking skills and wet feet.
Mora Flats to Bob Grounds:
From the junction with the Mora Flats Trail – Trail #250, go west to follow the Rio Valdez. The Rio Mora flows through a wide open valley, but the Rio Valdez quickly closes in to become a narrow canyon with dense vegetation. In this section, there were a number of downed trees that made the stream crossings slightly tricky.
After about a mile, the canyon begins to open up again and a half mile after that there’s a junction with the Bob Grounds Trail – Trail #270.
Gascon Trail to Skyline Trail:
From the junction with the Gascon Trail – Trail #239, the Rio Valdez Trail continues to follow the creek upstream toward the Santa Barbara Divide.
When I was there in June 2016, there was still significant snow in this section making parts of the trail difficult to follow. For the first half-mile, the trail stays on the west side of the creek, but eventually crosses to the east as it makes the final climb to the divide.
If you lose the trail, stay close to the creek. In the last 1/2 mile, the trail climbs above tree. This makes it easy to travel off trail. There’s a prominent sign at the top of the divide marking the junction with the Skyline Trail – Trail #251 and the Pecos River Trail – Trail #456. If nothing else keep your eye out for this sign.
To read more about the Rio Valdez Trail, see my trip report from the Pecos Falls Loop.