West Fork Trail – Trail #25

The West Fork Trail is an 8 mile trail that starts at a junction with the Middle Fork Trail – Trail #25 and ends at a junction on the Santa Barbara Divide.

Trail Conditions: Good

July 2019

From the junction with the Middle Fork Trail – Trail #24, the trail drops down to the creek. After passing through a series of small meadows, the trail cross back to the the Middle Fork of the Santa Barbara, follows it upstream before switching back to the west to join the West Fork where it continues upstream. From here, the tall walls of the canyon start to rise above the trail, representing some of the best big canyon geography anywhere in the Pecos or northern New Mexico.

The trail passes through a series of large meadows offering amazing views of Chimayosos Peak at the top of Santa Barbara Divide. 

A couple miles past the junction with the Middle Fork, the trail cross to the west side of the creek. Up to this point, any climbing has been fairly minimal, but from this point, the trail departs from the creek and begins ascending at a much steadier clip from here to the top of Santa Barbara Divide.

Despite leaving the West Fork, there are still plenty of side streams and other water sources. This first section of trail is very well cleared and easy to follow. The upper section of trail has some deadfall, but compared to many other Pecos trails this year is in very good condition. In places the trail switchbacks, in others it just slowly meanders uphill on the western wall of the canyon.

The final 1/3 mile to the top of the divide traverses across an open scree slope in long, low angle switchbacks. It briefly reenters some tree cover before making the final climb to the small saddle between Chimayosos and North Truchas Peak.

NOTE: Be mindful that if you are starting a normal time from Santa Barbara during July or August, there’s a good chance you’ll be reaching the saddle during mid-afternoon, peak monsoon window.