Carson National Forest, located in northern New Mexico, is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and horseback riders. With its diverse landscapes, stunning mountain views, and pristine wilderness, it offers a wide range of trails that cater to riders of all skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned equestrian or simply looking to indulge in a unique horseback adventure, here are some of the best horse trails at Carson National Forest.
1. Borrego Mesa Loop:
This scenic trail is perfect for riders seeking a moderate challenge. Beginning at the Borrego Trailhead, the loop offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, valleys, and meadows. It takes riders through high-elevation forests, open meadows filled with wildflowers, and streams. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife such as elk, deer, and even black bears. The trail is well-marked and covers approximately 12 miles, making it ideal for a day ride.
2. Wheeler Peak Wilderness Loop:
For a more challenging experience, the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Loop is a must-try trail. Located within the Pecos Wilderness, this path offers an exhilarating ride through diverse landscapes. As you traverse the loop, you'll encounter pristine alpine lakes, towering granite walls, and meandering streams. The trail reaches an elevation of over 13,000 feet, providing riders with awe-inspiring panoramic views. This trail covers about 15 miles, so it is recommended for experienced riders or those seeking a true adventure.
3. Valle Vidal Loop:
The Valle Vidal Loop is an iconic trail that showcases the untouched beauty of Carson National Forest. This 26-mile loop trail offers a blend of open meadows, thick forests, and crystal-clear streams. Riders will be treated to breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the lush valleys of the Valle Vidal. Wildlife lovers will enjoy the opportunity to spot elk, deer, and a variety of bird species. This trail is suitable for intermediate riders due to its length and varied terrain.
4. Ojo Redondo Loop:
If you're seeking a shorter trail that still packs a punch, the Ojo Redondo Loop is an ideal choice. This 6-mile loop offers a unique riding experience in the desert-like terrain near Cimarron. The trail winds through red rocks, arroyos, and pinon-juniper forests, providing riders with a taste of the region's diverse landscape. As you make your way through the loop, keep an eye out for ancient petroglyphs left behind by Native American tribes. This trail is perfect for beginners or riders who prefer a shorter ride.
5. Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area:
The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area offers a network of trails that can be customized for horseback riding adventures. With options ranging from easy, day-long rides to more challenging multi-day excursions, riders can explore the wildflower-filled meadows, pristine alpine lakes, and dense forests. The area is renowned for its untouched beauty and abundant wildlife. Be sure to check with the local Forest Service office for current trail conditions and any necessary permits.
Remember, when venturing out on these horse trails, always follow trail etiquettes, pack essential supplies, and respect the environment. Consider hiring local guides or joining riding groups to enhance your experience and gain valuable insights into the region's flora, fauna, and history. Whether you choose a short ride or embark on a longer adventure, Carson National Forest offers horse trails that are sure to leave you in awe of New Mexico's stunning natural beauty. So saddle up, explore, and create memories that will last a lifetime on the best horse trails at Carson National Forest.