Jicarita Peak Trail In New Mexico

Here is everything you need to know about the Jicarita Peak Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: New Mexico
  • Length: 23 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Carson National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Jicarita Peak Trail, located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, holds a rich historical significance. The trail has been used for centuries by various indigenous tribes, including the Pueblo and Apache peoples, who inhabited the region long before European settlers arrived. These tribes utilized the trail as a vital trade route, connecting different communities and facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultural practices.

With the arrival of Spanish explorers and settlers in the 16th century, the Jicarita Peak Trail gained further importance. The Spanish recognized its strategic value and incorporated it into their colonial network of trails and roads. They utilized the trail to establish trade routes between Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, and the settlements in the Taos Valley. The trail also served as a crucial link between the Spanish settlements and the indigenous communities, fostering cultural exchange and trade between the two groups.

During the 19th century, the Jicarita Peak Trail played a significant role in the expansion of the United States into the Southwest. As American settlers moved westward, the trail became part of the Santa Fe Trail, a major trade route connecting Missouri to Santa Fe. This trail facilitated the transportation of goods, including furs, livestock, and manufactured products, between the United States and the Mexican territories.

Today, the Jicarita Peak Trail stands as a testament to the historical interactions and cultural exchanges that have shaped the region. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can explore this trail, immersing themselves in the footsteps of indigenous peoples, Spanish settlers, and American pioneers, and connecting with the rich history of the area.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. El Porvenir Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Jicarita Peak Trail. It is located off Forest Road 161, approximately 15 miles north of Pecos, New Mexico.

2. Santa Barbara Campground: This campground is located near the El Porvenir Trailhead and serves as an alternative access point for the Jicarita Peak Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers.

3. Johnson Mesa Trailhead: This trailhead is located off Forest Road 161, approximately 10 miles north of the El Porvenir Trailhead. It provides another access point for the Jicarita Peak Trail.

4. Aspen Basin Trailhead: This trailhead is located off Forest Road 161, approximately 5 miles north of the Johnson Mesa Trailhead. It is another option for accessing the Jicarita Peak Trail.

5. Iron Gate Trailhead: This trailhead is located off Forest Road 161, approximately 2 miles north of the Aspen Basin Trailhead. It is a smaller access point for the Jicarita Peak Trail.

6. Rio Santa Barbara Trailhead: This trailhead is located off Forest Road 161, approximately 1 mile north of the Iron Gate Trailhead. It provides another access point for the Jicarita Peak Trail.

These are the major access points or trailheads along the Jicarita Peak Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail, but these are the main ones commonly used by hikers.

Transportation Available

1. Jicarita Peak Trailhead Parking Lot – Convenient parking area for hikers starting the Jicarita Peak Trail.
2. Taos Ski Valley Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from the Jicarita Peak Trailhead.
3. Santa Fe Trails Bus – Public bus service with stops near the Jicarita Peak Trail for easy access.
4. Taos Rides – Local transportation service offering rides to the Jicarita Peak Trailhead.
5. Uber – On-demand ride-hailing service available for transportation to the Jicarita Peak Trail.
6. Lyft – Another on-demand ride-hailing service providing transportation options to the Jicarita Peak Trail.
7. Taos Regional Airport – Nearby airport offering flights for those traveling from further distances to access the Jicarita Peak Trail.
8. Taos Express Shuttle – Shuttle service specializing in transportation to outdoor recreational areas, including the Jicarita Peak Trail.


The amenities available at the Jicarita Peak Trail may vary, but here are some common amenities you might find:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could be portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas at the trailhead or nearby where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and permits, there may be designated camping sites along the Jicarita Peak Trail. These sites could have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and tent pads.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the trail or the trailhead might have designated picnic areas where visitors can relax and enjoy their meals.

5. Water Sources: If there are natural water sources along the trail, such as streams or lakes, visitors might be able to access them for drinking or other purposes. However, it’s always recommended to bring your own water or purify water from natural sources.

6. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail might have markers or signs indicating the trail route, distances, and points of interest. These can help hikers navigate the trail more easily.

7. Information Boards: There might be information boards at the trailhead or along the trail, providing details about the trail, its history, flora, fauna, and safety guidelines.

8. Waste Disposal: Visitors might find trash cans or waste disposal facilities at the trailhead or along the trail to properly dispose of their waste.

It’s important to note that the availability of these amenities can vary, so it’s recommended to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for the most up-to-date information before visiting the Jicarita Peak Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Jicarita Peak Campground – A primitive campground located near the trailhead, offering basic amenities.
2. Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort – A nearby resort with lodging, dining, and emergency services available.
3. Elizabethtown Bed & Breakfast – A charming B&B located a short drive away, providing comfortable accommodations.
4. Taos Ski Valley – A popular ski resort offering lodging, dining, and emergency services.
5. Angel Fire Resort – A mountain resort with lodging, dining, and emergency services available.
6. Questa Lodge – A rustic lodge situated in the town of Questa, providing lodging options.
7. Eagle Nest Lake State Park – A state park with camping facilities and emergency services nearby.
8. Red River Ski & Summer Area – A mountain resort offering lodging, dining, and emergency services.
9. Cimarron Canyon State Park – A state park with camping facilities and emergency services close by.
10. Taos Mountain Casino – A casino and hotel located in Taos, providing lodging options.

Jicarita Peak Trail Difficulty Notes

The Jicarita Peak Trail is known for its challenging difficulty level. With a total distance of approximately 9 miles and an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet, this trail requires a moderate to high level of physical fitness and endurance. Hikers will encounter steep and rocky sections, as well as some narrow and exposed areas along the ridge. The trail is not recommended for beginners or those with limited hiking experience. However, for experienced hikers seeking a rewarding and strenuous adventure, the Jicarita Peak Trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit.

Features And Attractions

The Jicarita Peak Trail is located in the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. Along this trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Jicarita Peak Trail:

1. Jicarita Peak: The trail leads to the summit of Jicarita Peak, which stands at an elevation of 12,835 feet (3,912 meters). The peak offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

2. Valle Vidal: This vast high-elevation grassland is a designated wilderness area and offers stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is home to diverse wildlife, including elk, deer, and various bird species.

3. Columbine-Hondo Wilderness: The trail passes through or near the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, which is known for its pristine alpine meadows, wildflowers, and rugged peaks. It is a great place for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

4. Rio Santa Barbara: The trail follows the Rio Santa Barbara, a beautiful mountain stream that flows through the Carson National Forest. You can enjoy the soothing sound of the water and spot wildlife along its banks.

5. Wild Rivers Recreation Area: Although not directly on the Jicarita Peak Trail, the Wild Rivers Recreation Area is nearby and worth a visit. It features the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River, creating deep canyons and stunning views.

6. Historic Logging Sites: The trail passes through areas that were once used for logging operations. You may come across remnants of old logging camps, sawmills, or other historical artifacts.

7. Wildlife Viewing: The Jicarita Peak Trail offers opportunities to spot various wildlife species, including elk, mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, and a variety of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures.

8. Alpine Lakes: There are several alpine lakes in the area, such as Lake Katherine and Heart Lake. These pristine bodies of water are perfect for a refreshing dip or a peaceful picnic spot.

9. Aspen Groves: The trail passes through beautiful aspen groves, especially during the fall season when the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow and gold. It creates a stunning visual display.

10. High Mountain Passes: The trail takes you through high mountain passes, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. These passes provide a sense of adventure and a unique perspective of the landscape.

Remember to check with local authorities or the Carson National Forest for any specific regulations, permits, or closures before embarking on the Jicarita Peak Trail.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or fires allowed along the trail.
– Pack out all trash and leave no trace.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
– No motorized vehicles or bicycles allowed on the trail.
– Hunting or fishing is not permitted.
– No off-trail hiking or rock climbing.
– Check for any seasonal restrictions or closures before visiting.
– Be prepared for changing weather conditions and carry appropriate gear.
– Obtain necessary permits or passes for accessing the trail, if required.
– Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at the trailhead or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Jicarita Peak Trail, located in the Carson National Forest of New Mexico, offers breathtaking views and a challenging hiking experience. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the summer and early fall months, typically from June to October. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. The trail is also more accessible and less prone to snowfall, making it safer and easier to navigate.

One important thing to note is that the Jicarita Peak Trail is subject to seasonal closures. The trail is closed during the winter months, usually from November to May, due to heavy snowfall and hazardous conditions. The closure is in place to ensure the safety of hikers and to protect the natural environment. It is crucial to check with the Carson National Forest or local authorities for the most up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning your visit.

During the open season, the Jicarita Peak Trail offers a variety of stunning sights and experiences. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lush alpine meadows, and vibrant wildflowers. The trail also provides opportunities for wildlife spotting, with the chance to encounter deer, elk, and various bird species. It is recommended to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate hiking gear, as the trail can be steep and challenging in certain sections.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Jicarita Peak Trail are during the summer and early fall months when the weather is favorable and the trail is open. However, it is essential to be aware of the seasonal closures during the winter season. By planning your visit accordingly and being prepared for the hike, you can fully enjoy the beauty and adventure that the Jicarita Peak Trail has to offer.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Jicarita Peak Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and steep inclines.
2. ADA Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at the trailhead for visitors with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are provided at the trailhead to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
4. Trailhead Accessibility: The trailhead is designed to be accessible, featuring paved pathways, ramps, and handrails for easier navigation.
5. Trail Information: ADA-compliant signage and information boards are available at the trailhead, providing details about the Jicarita Peak Trail and its accessibility challenges.
6. Assistance Animals: Visitors with disabilities are allowed to bring their assistance animals on the trail to aid them during their hike.
7. Accessible Picnic Areas: Accessible picnic areas with tables and benches are provided near the trailhead for visitors to relax and enjoy their meals.
8. Trail Surface: The Jicarita Peak Trail has a natural surface, which may be challenging for individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
9. Trail Length: The trail is approximately X miles long, and its difficulty level may pose challenges for individuals with mobility impairments.
10. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers several scenic overlooks along the way, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape for all visitors to enjoy, including those with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Difficulty Level: The Jicarita Peak Trail is a challenging hike with steep sections and uneven terrain, suitable for experienced hikers.
2. Altitude: The trail reaches high elevations, so be prepared for potential altitude sickness and acclimatize properly.
3. Weather Conditions: Weather can change rapidly, so check the forecast and be prepared for sudden temperature drops, strong winds, and thunderstorms.
4. Trail Markers: The trail is well-marked, but it’s recommended to carry a map or GPS device to avoid getting lost.
5. Water Availability: Carry enough water as there are limited water sources along the trail, and treat any water you find before drinking.
6. Wildlife: Be cautious of encounters with wildlife such as bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes; make noise to alert them of your presence.
7. Sun Protection: The trail offers limited shade, so wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
8. Clothing and Gear: Wear sturdy hiking boots, dress in layers, and carry essential gear like a first aid kit, headlamp, and extra food.
9. Hiking in Groups: It’s recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and assistance in case of emergencies.
10. Leave No Trace: Practice responsible hiking by packing out all trash, staying on the designated trail, and respecting the natural environment.

Conservation Notes

The Jicarita Peak Trail, located in the Carson National Forest of New Mexico, holds a conservation status that is of significant importance. The trail traverses through a diverse range of ecosystems, including subalpine forests, meadows, and alpine tundra, providing a habitat for numerous plant and animal species. Due to its ecological significance, the Jicarita Peak Trail has been designated as a protected area, ensuring the preservation of its unique biodiversity.

The conservation status of the Jicarita Peak Trail is primarily focused on maintaining the integrity of its natural resources. Efforts are made to minimize human impact on the trail and its surroundings, including the prevention of habitat destruction and the preservation of sensitive species. The trail is carefully managed to prevent erosion and maintain water quality, ensuring the sustainability of the ecosystem. Additionally, measures are taken to control invasive species and prevent the spread of diseases that could harm the native flora and fauna.

Conservation efforts on the Jicarita Peak Trail also extend to the promotion of responsible recreational activities. Visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles, which include practices such as packing out trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife. By educating hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts about the importance of conservation, the trail management aims to foster a sense of stewardship and ensure the long-term protection of this valuable natural resource.

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