Ortiz Peak summit(u)

This route is one way to get from Cabresto Canyon over the divide into Valle Vidal. It involves crossing Ortiz Peak on the divide. For me the route offers equal portions of confusion about the topography and excitement about the scenery, while crossing  into one of northern New Mexico's most interesting valleys. Back in Spanish colonial times the horseman could enter Valle Vidal from the the same direction by way of the old Costilla Pass. Today's mountain biker has to cross a higher ridge to stay away from private property. The route described here route consists of a combination of dirt roads, abandoned lumber paths and fence line trails, that are not shown on any maps, unless they are handdrawn by a local forest ranger. It's a good idea to take along an extra supply of time and flexibility for a dayride across this summit.

01.(7470ft,mile00) START-END SOUTH: Questa
02.(9050ft,mile10) FR148 branches on right to Red River
03.(10510ft,mile16) Lagunita Saddle, route continues left shortly after this point
04.(10560ft,mile17) turn right onto route closed to motorized traffic
05.(10870ft,mile19) pick up Valle Vidal fence line trail
06.(11209ft,mile22) Ortiz Peak
07.(10760ft,mile23) route somewhat indistinct between here and next point
08.(9770ft,mile23) pick up forest road above Comanche Point
09.(8960ft,mile25) junction with good dirt road along Comanche Creek
10.(8940ft,mile26) junction with private road to (one of three passes named) San Francisco Pass
11.(8150ft,mile39) START-END NORTH: Amalia


From North. To start at the bottom, topographically speaking, one has to start in Questa (7500ft). The route follows a gravel road to Lagunita Saddle. The first right after the saddle goes to Trail Canyon ( or similar name ). The route to Valle Vidal continues straight. A short distance later, at the next junction, stay left on the road that winds uphill through a meadow into a higher forest. There another smaller road takes off to the left. Stay right. Cross a cow grate and take the next right onto a forest road closed to motor vehicles. Meanwhile the path surface conditions have improved considerably since Lagunita Saddle. The closed double track leads past a prime viewing area of Wheeler Peak (2nd picture), through an old tree harvesting area and curves back towards the west. This is where it becomes tricky. At a junction a path towards the right appears to dead end. At this point the route crosses the Valle Vidal boundary. A straight fence line, from which the wire has been removed runs along the ridge. An old fence line trail heads in a westerly direction just inside the old Valle Vidal boundary. This trail eventually tops at a forested summit with a microwave facility at 11209ft.

From South.
(described downwards). Several minor hills after the summit the trail eventually turns north to descend into Valle Vidal. Great views from here. Below timber line the trail becomes faint. It crosses a small meadow with an old cabin. The trail exits the meadow uphill towards the right and soon skirts a large area with wind damaged timber. After further faint meadow crossings my own route detoured upvalley substantially. I was tempted to head straight through the forest to the road clearly visible in the valley (3rd picture). But the upvalley route did eventually dump me onto FR1750 within half a mile east of Comanche Point (which is shown on the Carson National Forest Map).



Dayrides. A loop ride from Questa, climbing Lagunita Saddle via Cabresto Canyon, continuing over the divide as described, returning to the starting point by paved road through Amalia and Costilla measured 69 miles, 5310 feet of climbing in 7.1 hours using a Cateye 100A cycle computer.


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