Hiking Project Logo

blueBlack West Fork Rio Santa Barbara

  4.8 ( 5 ) Favorite

Trail

20.4 mile 32.9 kilometer loop
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,183' 970 m
Descent: -3,183' -970 m
High: 11,927' 3,635 m
Low: 8,910' 2,716 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)

Dogs

Off-leash
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Peter Olson

A good trail climbing up and up following a river to a pass high above treeline.

Peter Olson

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This is the most frequently used of the trails in the Santa Barbara Divide. This trail provides the closest access to the Truchas Lakes from the north. No Fish Lake is located at the base of the Divide. Although the total elevation gains over 3,000 feet, the climb is fairly gradual.

Description

From the Santa Barbara campground, park in the parking at the entrance of the campground and hike through to the far end of the loop where the trail starts. Follow this nice wide singletrack into the forest along the river. Enjoy the cliffs looming on both sides as you climb the gradual trail ever higher.

About 3 miles up the canyon on Trail #24, you'll encounter the turnoff to Trail #25. At this point the canyon branches with the Middle Fork and West Fork of the Rio Santa Barbara. The West Fork Trail continues up the canyon which broadens into a large open meadow, where a magnificent array of wildflowers can be seen during July and August. As you continue traveling south on Trail #25, the canyon gradually narrows again. The trail crosses to the west side of the river about 3 miles from the Middle Fork turnoff and the trail begins to ascend high above the river in a series of long gentle switchbacks.

At about 6 miles in, you'll cross a big meadow with views of the peaks you are headed for. Enjoy the open space but keep an eye on the herds of cows likely to be grazing on the lush green grass.

The trail starts to climb more steeply switchbacking up the right side of the valley. Eventually, you'll reach the saddle between North Truchas and Chmayosos Peaks. Soak up the view.

Chimayosos Peaks dominates the view to the northeast as the trail continues to climb up the canyon. No Fish Lake (11,600) can be seen along the trail just before the final ascent to the Santa Barbara Divide (12,000). This shallow lake will not support fish since it freezes solid during the winter months. It is located well below the main trail. If you wish to see it be alert and watch for the turn off as you travel up the canyon. Camping is prohibited within 300 of all lakes. The divide is also the Carson/Santa Fe National Forest boundary. Trail #25 continues to the south onto the Santa Fe to Skyline Trail #251 and Truchas Lakes (2.2 miles).

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

Contacts

Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In

Check-Ins

Jun 11, 2018
T Green
Trail is in terrific shape. No meaningful water crossings. Elevation gain is definitely higher than listed: I didn't go all the way to Skyline/CDT… 19.1mi
Jun 21, 2017
Cissy McCrary
Nice trail, but stopped at the river crossing after the trail split. 2ft deep water, but passable. 6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 5 votes

#1

in El Valle

#909

Overall
  4.8 from 5 votes
5 Star
80%
4 Star
20%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Featured Hike Rankings

#1

in El Valle

#10

in New Mexico

#909

Overall
316 Views Last Month
5,252 Since Jul 6, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
33%
67%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking