This spectacular section of the wilderness is remote, requiring 4wd/high clearance and about an hour and a half drive from Santa Fe to access it’s starting point. We will pass through the village of Pecos, taking us up canyon along the wild Pecos river. After passing the small village of Terrero at 13 miles the road narrows and climbs high above the river. We will turn off on a forest road passing through some beautiful homesteads eventually arriving at the Iron Gate trailhead (9300 ft)(our starting point). From the trailhead we will hike along a broad ridge the splits the pecos and mora river drainages. We’ll climb gradually on the well marked and maintained trail through a mixture of spruce, douglas fir, and pine. Along the way we will be greeted with dramatic views into the wildly remote Mora canyon. Flying predators can usually be spotted looming high above the deep canyon. Eventually the dense forest will give way to a large series of amazing meadows. This can be quite the scene during wildflower season. The lofty Truchas peaks dominate the skyline. Is this New Mexico? For someone wanting a relatively easy hike this is a great option.
We will continue through the meadows to the junction with the faint “Bob Grounds” trail at 5.2 miles. A one mile descent will bring us to the solitude of the rio valdez. Downstream we will continue until arriving at the confluence with the majestic Mora river. Soon we will encounter “Mora Flats” (an area dotted with small riverside meadows. This is a great place to stop and cool down. Our next step will be to locate the Mora Flats trail that climbs up out of the canyon eventually joining the hamilton Mesa trail we were on earlier. This will close out our portion of the loop. One more mile of gradual descending will bring us back to the Iron Gate trailhead. Total miles hiked will be 12.8. Estimated total hiking time 7-8 hrs. Santa Fe and back 8-10 hrs.
From the meadows in option A we will hike another easy mile or so to the “Larkspur trail”. Approximately one mile and a half on this seldom used trail will lead us into the pecos river drainage and alongside the historical area of Beatty’s Cabin. This wild area represents a confluence of several core drainages that make up this river system. This will be a fabulous place to rest and absorb the feeling of the areas pioneers. When ready we will return the same way we came. Total hiking distance 11.2 miles. Estimated total hiking time 5-7 hrs. Santa Fe and back 7-8 hrs.