Friday, November 11, 2011

Taos Valley Overlook Trail on my day off...

This winter Holly & I are swapping off being at the shop, She'll work a week, and I'll work a week, the exception being that I'll be working most Sundays. Taos in Winter is Slow for independent businesses, so there's little reason for us to both be here. Last week was my turn to have some time away from 'work'. Friday was one of the last nice days of Autumn here, so I decided to take a walk and stretch my aching bones and gout ridden body. The Taos Overlook trail pullover is located on the western side of Highway 68 between mile markers 35 & 36. The parking area is poorly marked but it's about a mile south of the Stakeout Restaurant entrance on the opposite side of the road. Once you pull into the parking area, the signage is helpful, but to sign in on the clipboard you'd better have a pen or pencil handy.
The reason I chose this trail is that I thought it would be quite easy and just allow me to stretch my legs, which it certainly is a nice place for this. The trail is mostly flat and straight to the Gorge if you decide to hike the "Traders Trail", the "Rift Valley Trail" loops around and seems quite popular with mountain bike riders.
This link will get you a great map, wish I knew this when I went on this hike!
After about 10 minutes I could feel the sun on my back warming me up and my legs starting to tingle from the lack of exercise I get. Stepping off the trail which is basically an old off road vehicle road, I noticed a whole lot of this sort of vegetation, here it almost seems to be spelling something out??? If you choose to step off the trail at all, fair warning there is a whole lot of low lying cactus everywhere you step. Thorns will go right through your shoes and make for a very uncomfortable journey.
Over to the right/north is Taos Blue Mountain and Wheeler Peak and all that sage. I wasn't expecting to see a whole lot out on this trail, although an animal of some sort deer, bear or coyote could have come up over a ridge that I couldn't quite see over from my 5' 11" vantage point.
Instead I turn my attention to the local Flora, above is the local Cota or Navajo Tea, in the field you'll recognize it when you brush your hand over it you'll smell the distinct aroma of Chamomile. There are a whole lot of low lying yellow flowering plants, so if it smells like the calming tea then pick a bit of it, dry it on the dashboard of your car window and steep it in hot water, it's quite enjoyable and good for you.
This bush of Rabbit Brush stood out going all soft and feathery after flowering in a bright Fall Yellow, reminding me of this beautiful painting by Jonathan Warm Day of Taos Pueblo.
The "Winter Rabbit Hunt" painting is included in his book Taos Pueblo Painted Stories, it's a nice size at 26" x 30" and is priced at $1,500. currently I have it hanging in the window at Two Graces Plaza Gallery. As I was thinking of this connection, on the other side of a Pinon Tree I noticed something move ever so slightly, while trying to reach for my camera stashed away in my pocket one of those mountain bike riders swooped up from the arroyo and scares a Jack Rabbit out of his hiding place.
So, a bit of Fauna after all out on this trail!
This shot is what my Mom would call me 'Being Arty'
After about 20 minutes the canyon rim of the Rio Grande Gorge began to reveal itself, and too the clouds rolling in for the storm which left us with a nice snowfall over the weekend.
My hiking of trails is of the rambling type, I prefer to bushwack and go off the beaten path, (You are discouraged from doing this), sometimes you take a few steps off the trail and something reveals itself to you that you would have never experienced otherwise. Thus I walked down to the arroyo below me to discover this outcrop of rocks, and on a few them wonderful Petroglyphs showed themselves to me. I searched around a bit more for any others but didn't come across anymore in the area.
Back onto the trail proper, I could hear gunshots popping in the very far distance. Over at the road down to the bottom of the gorge a lot of people shoot guns over the rim at all times of day. The trail is quite nice, a bit more strenuous as it hugs the side of the canyon and takes you quite deep into the gorge itself all the way down to the river. That trail is at the end of what is referred to as the Golf Course Road. The first time we walked down to the river there we saw crawfish in the water, amazing and quite unexpected.
These shell casings were scattered about where I was, so evidently boys will be boys and shoot their guns off wherever they like. There's a bench here at the end of this trail, which seems to be utilized for the most part by people drinking beer and shooting guns. What I don't like about this aspect is the bottles and cans are strewn about and smashed on the rocks. Well enough of that, I came out here for the view.
...and what an incredible view it is...
To the southwest your view is of the river road 570 from Pilar and the Taos Junction Bridge, another beautiful spot and place to explore here.
Yucca growing on the edge of the gorge.
A magnificent view looking straight down to the river below! The rock slide on the other side of the gorge, is reason enough not to get too close to the edge...
I took a whole lot of photographs out here, but decided not to post too many here, to instead encourage you to take your camera and take a hike.
I'd been wondering around out here for 2 hours already, so I headed back.
At this point I was just walking back when I noticed one of our local migrating Tarantulas crossing my path. I'm told only the males migrate and usually in large Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets type groups of them. This one was quite beautiful a fuzzy brown and on a mission, I kept taking pictures and he kept walking quickly off to the northwest.
After this you can imagine I was exhilarated and ready to tell the someone all about it, but I still had to walk to the parking area and to the car. I began to count my steps...
After a seemingly endless counting of steps I arrived at 1,545 about 20 minutes later and back to the car. All told it's probably a good 1,800 steps to the gorge itself and well worth it.
So take a camera you never know what you may run into out there!


  1. You might remember we did this walk on your recommendation this summer. Your post brings back nice memories, though it doesn't seem to have been as windy for you as it was for us. I thought we'd be blown off the edge!

  2. Walked this trail many times in the last two years, but never to the Gorge. Good on ya, mate!

    Catherine Naylor

  3. Thanks Bobby, for walking this trail for me, adding your beautiful photos and insightful commentaries transporting me where I'm not likely to be, any time soon.

    Erica H. Adams

  4. i'm just glad you're THERE realizing what a BEAUTIFUL place you're in and that you're so GRATEFUL for that. . .AND then sharing with us. refreshing. x0