Easy Hikes

The easier hikes in Valles Caldera are a great place to get started exploring your preserve. Keep in mind the safety and access considerations, and be sure to check current conditions and the weather forecast prior to starting your adventure.
 
A cabin sits off to the right in a grass filled valley. The sky is cloudy and blue.
Missing Cabin Movie Set

Photo: NPS/Seth Gayner

Missing Cabin Trail

Length: 0.5 miles (0.8 km), out and back round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8537-8573 feet
Trailhead: Locked cable gate at dirt jeep track on the west side of the main entrance road, about ½ mile from the entrance gate; 35° 50’ 20.2” N, 106° 29’ 31.52” W
Parking: Small dirt pull-out adjacent to the trailhead along the main entrance road. Backcountry permit not required.
Route: The short trail climbs a small hill to an old movie set cabin nestled in a picturesque setting, with excellent views of Valle Grande and Hidden Valley.
 
The calm waters of a small pond reflect the cloudy blue sky. Mountains define the horizon in the background.
The stock pond in Valle Grande is an excellent place to spot wildlife.

Photo: NPS/Seth Gayner

Pond Trail

Length: 1 mile (2.4 km) out and back round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8504-8517 feet
Trailhead: Brown numbered posts on the south side of the corral adjacent to the Valle Grande Entrance Station parking area; 35° 51' 23" N, 106° 29' 25" W
Parking: Dirt parking area adjacent to Valle Grande Entrance Station. Backcountry permit not required.
Route: The trail enters the heart of Valle Grande to reach a pretty stock pond, offering good opportunities for viewing elk, birds, and wildflowers.
 
Purple flowers grow in tall grass. A boulder in the right foreground. A forested hill in the top right under a cloudy sky. A dirt road veers off to the left into the distance.
La Jara Trail is a great place to see wildflowers in the late spring or early summer.

Photo: NPS/Seth Gayner

La Jara Loop

Length: 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip loop
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8497-8545 feet
Trailhead: Brown sign at the southwest corner of the Valle Grande Entrance Station parking area; 35° 51' 22" N, 106° 29' 26" W
Parking: Dirt parking area adjacent to Valle Grande Entrance Station. Backcountry permit not required.
Route: The pet friendly trail circles Cerro La Jara lava dome, passing through a prairie dog colony, and offers views of Valle Grande, South Mountain, and good opportunities for wildlife and wildflowers.
 
A dog overlooks a lush valley with pine trees in the peripheral.
Explore Valle Grande Trail.

Photo: NPS/Dan Kish

Valle Grande Trail

Length: 2 miles (3.2 km), out and back round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8653-9081 feet
Trailhead: Near mile marker 43 on the north side of NM 4; 35° 51’ 10.77” N, 106° 25’ 55.99” W
Parking: Paved pull-out on the south side of NM 4, opposite the trailhead. Backcountry permit not required.
Route: The pet friendly trail quickly drops down the southeastern rim of the caldera to reach the edge of Valle Grande, offering sweeping views and excellent opportunities for elk viewing, especially early in the morning or late afternoon and early evening.
 
A tranquil river reflects the image of a blue sky. It is surrounded by tall grass a rocky and a rocky outcrop to the left supports tall pine trees.
Hidden Valley along the East Fork of the Jemez River

Photo: NPS/Coco Rae

Hidden Valley Trail

Length: 3.4 miles (5.5 km), out and back round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8406-8573 feet
Trailhead: Locked cable gate at dirt jeep track on the west side of the main entrance road, about ½ mile from the entrance gate; 35° 50’ 20.2” N, 106° 29’ 31.52” W
Parking: Small dirt pull-out adjacent to the trailhead along the main entrance road. Backcountry permit not required.
Route: The trail passes the Missing Cabin and drops down a small hill to follow the East Fork of the Jemez River as it flows toward the southwestern corner of the preserve, following a narrow valley and passing interesting volcanic formations. Some parts of the trail may be marshy.
 
A vast view into a grassy valley with forested hills defining the horizon. The sky is blue with clouds, and bare trees line the foreground.
The view into Valles Caldera from the South Rim.

Photo: NPS/Coco Rae

Coyote Call & Rabbit Ridge Trails

Length: 2.9 miles (4.7 km) Coyote Call round trip loop; 5.3 miles (8.5 km) with Rabbit Ridge out and back extension
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation: 8714-9610 feet
Trailhead: Near mile marker 41 on the south side of NM 4; 35° 50’ 53.36” N, 106° 27’ 55.11” W
Parking: Paved pull-out adjacent to the trailhead or on the north side of NM 4 opposite the trailhead. Backcountry permit not required. Parking is not suitable for oversized vehicles. Additional parking is available on the opposite side of Highway 4.
Route: Both trails traverse along the southern rim of the caldera, offering great views of Valle Grande and Redondo Mountain. Coyote Call Loop is shorter with less elevation gain, passing through pretty meadows and aspen groves, and may be hiked in either direction. The east end of the loop can continue into Bandelier National Monument, where pets are prohibited. The Rabbit Ridge Extension is an optional addition of more elevation and distance, and passes through some burned areas that may be hazardous in high winds.

 

There are many more hiking routes to choose from if you are looking for a more challenging adventure. Please visit the Moderate Hikes or Difficult Hikes webpages for more information.

Last updated: August 19, 2021

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