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FR76 Osha Pass s(u)

Osha Pass is fairly obscure crossing in the Sangre de Cristo Range ( but maybe not by New Mexico standards ). It is located a few miles south of Palo Flechado pass, east of Taos. In spite of being nearly forgotten, this is an ancient crossing with an fascinating history. This descriptions covers the most obvious route over the pass, which is not the most direct and also goes a few feet higher.

01.(mile00,6940ft) START-END WEST ALT: jct NM585-NM68, just south of Taos.
02.(mile03,7190ft) jct NM585-US64, just west of Taos.
03.(mile13,8330ft) START-END WEST: profile branches right onto FR437 to Valle Escondido
04.(mile15,8580ft) route turns left uphill onto FR70. Profile is indistinct to next point.
05.(mile16,8860ft) join FR70A
06.(mile19,9830ft) Osha Pass
07.(mile21,9940ft) TOP: point of highest altitude
08.(mile21,9780ft) join FR76 and continue downhill on left
09.(mile25,8680ft) START-END EAST: profile joins paved NM434 and turns left
to Aqua Fria
10.(mile31,8360ft) START-END EAST ALT: jct NM434-Palo Flechado Pass in Aqua Fria.


From West. One route to Osha Pass diverts from US84 up Palo Flechado Pass at the turnoff to the Valle Escondido Resort. After elaborate golf course cycling the route follows County Road north out of the development. Less than half a mile before County Road crosses onto private land, FR70 heads east up a steep ascent. A sign labels the road as dead end. There are mutliple ways to the summit in the myriad of forest roads. One way is to stay left uphill at the first fork, then right at the next fork where there is a FR70 sign a short distance after the turnoff. After that, follow the most traveled paths. The top is in an open subalpine meadow surrounded by forested hills. Signs near the top point to two different routes to Apache Pass. This is where the picture was taken.

From East. Again there are multiple routes to the the top. One of them follows the main road south out of the Angel Fire Resort. The route turns onto, at times boulder paved, FR76 and follows it to a small sign advertising the route to Osha Pass ( the only Osha Pass sign along the entire route), pointing to a dirt double track that has been blocked.




A ride starting from a camping site near Taos to the Valle Escondido Resort, crossing over the pass to Angel Fire, and returning over Red River Pass, Questa and Taos, with several additional spurs measured  110 miles with 8210 feet of climbing. The ride was planned with a return from Red River Pass over "Bull of the Mountain" trail ( crossing a sholder of Wheeler Peak ) to the Taos ski area. Some old maps indicate a through going road at this point, that does not resist. As far as I can tell, that route is not bikable, and in any case, much too rough and long. A more reasonable day tour would have returned over Palo Flechado Pass.


The seven miles south of Palo Flechado Pass contain two additional crossings of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Osha Pass is the southernmost in the trio, with Apache Pass in the middle.

Osha, the pass above a golf course, without a sign on top, is older than what is often called America's oldest city, St. Augustine in Florida. The Taos pueblo, also a city, just not an anglican city, entered european consciousness when Coronado arived in 1540, at least 20 years before St Augustine was founded. At that time Palo Flechado Pass was the ancient pueblo highway to the east. Osha and Apache passes were used by the pueblo inhabitants when raiding Apaches occupied the main road.

The today, unmarked pass has another historical curiosity. It was once marked as the Santa Fe Trail. Five years after the Long expedition to Colorado, senator Thomas Hart Benton of Mississippi and other expanasionists successfully legislated a bill calling for the marking of the Santa Fe trail from Fort Osage to the Mexican settlements. The men to carry out the marking was major Sibley with 12 people and two wagons. As Sibley neared the Cimarron Cutoff in Sept 1885 he heard reports that hostile Indians occupied the trail in the Glorietta Pass area. In response Sibley promptly relocated the trail through Taos Gap and over Palo Flechado Pass. However the party strayed a few miles to the south, crossing and marking Osha Pass instead. In the process the two wagons had to be disassembled to get them to the top, inadvertantly making this one of the earliest passes crossed by wagons. The concept of the Santa Fe Trail by way of Taos and Osha Pass did not last long and the markers promptly disappeared.

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