Taos Hike: The La Vista Verde Trail

The La Vista Verde Trail, in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area, runs from State Highway 567 to an overlook point with the Rio Grande Gorge rapids far below. The steep-walled gorge trail has dramatic changes in elevation and draws many species including raptors (such as eagles and hawks), songbirds, waterfowl, beavers, cougars, ring-tailed cats, and mule deer. The trail is 1.2 miles long. We started at 6,243 feet, with an elevation gain of 88 feet as the trail climbed—a gradual gain in elevation and an easy hike.

We set out early to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. At six thousand-plus feet, the sun can be brutal at noon, especially in August. The drive from Taos south to the village of Pilar took less than thirty minutes. Pilar is located on the Rio Grande River and was originally named Cieneguilla, which in Spanish means “marsh”; the swampy ground is fed by several streams from the Rio Grande River. The name “Pilar” is said to have come from an influential Native American who lived in the area—Pilar Vigil.

While hiking, keep watch for staurolites. The Greek word stauros means “cross.” Although I have not come across any personally, our hiking companions have found several staurolites. A Taoseño friend, Miguel, kindly gave us one last year. He has collected many and was willing to part with several. We told him we would be happy to have one. A staurolite is a glassy brown mineral that consists of a silicate of aluminum and iron and is in the shape of a cross.

The trail, I’ve been told, is a popular one, but our timing was perfect. We passed one couple coming off the trail as we hiked in, and another couple leaving the overlook point as we arrived. Other than those two, we heard only our footfalls and the occasional screech of a hawk. And I am happy to say we spotted no trash, not even a gum wrapper. In spots the trail was muddy, a good sign, for it had drizzled the night before. Moisture of any kind in a desert environment is a blessing. I hope you enjoy this photo gallery of our hike.

August 30, 2018: Taos Hike: The Devisadero Loop Trail 108

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