The valley of the Rio de los Pinos ("River of the Pines") is a picturesque glacial valley whose scenery has attracted tourists from afar. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad passes through the valley below Highway 17. Above the highway, the valley has been developed as a recreational area, including Trujillo Meadows Campground and reservoir, a popular fishing spot. The wildlands of the upper Rio de los Pinos valley are accessible only by trail and offer quiet and solitude to the hiker and backpacker.
Copyright: Jim Hughes-USDA Forest Service
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, from Chama, NM at Cumbres Pass
Trail 736 passes through the uppermost two miles of the Rio de los Pinos valley. Subalpine forests of spruce and fir cover the slopes of this U-shaped glacial valley. Wide meadows stretch along the valley bottom and are covered with colorful wildflowers in the summertime. The valley rises gradually to Jarosa Mesas, from which spectacular views into the Rio de los Pinos, Elk Creek, and Rito Colorado drainages may be seen. The jagged peaks of the Continental Divide are visible across the alpine tundra.
The trail gives access to the upper reaches of the Rio de los Pinos, a popular fishing stream. The Trujillo Meadows campground offers campers an ideal day hike to the alpine country of Jarosa Mesa. Red Lake, popular for fishing, can easily be reached by this trail. Atop Jarosa Mesa, these trails are often overgrown by vegetation. Rock cairns mark the trails but it is highly recommended that a topographic map and a compass be used in this area.
The South San Juan Wilderness is entered near the rim of the canyon. Beyond this point motorized equipment is prohibited.
Directions from Highway 17: Take the Trujillo Meadows Reservoir turnoff from Highway 17, approximately one quarter mile north of the summit of Cumbres Pass. Follow Road #118 to the reservoir. Beyond the reservoir, Road #118 is a primitive jeep road. Discretion should be used before driving further. It is suggested that vehicles with low clearance be parked at the reservoir. The trailhead is at the end of Road #118, approximately 4 miles from the reservoir.
Mid-June through September .