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Chama River Basin (Colorado, north of Chama) Exploratory

  • Jun 28, 2013 · 7:00 PM

If you read all of this and want to go on the trip rsvp to the waiting list.

This is exploratory in more ways than one.  First I haven't been there and secondly the maps do not agree on what the trails are or where they go.  Because of the uncertainty I am going to limit this mostly to people I have backpacked with before with only a few unknown folks.  If I don't know you I'll need to get some info about your ability.  It should be a moderate trip with only 650 feet of elevation gain in 4.9 miles but it helps to have a little extra in the tank when there is some uncertainty.  If all goes according to plan, we'll use that extra gas to do some exploring.  Oh, the forest service description below agrees with my map up to the point of the intended campsite for Saturday night.

Now that I've scared you here is the forest service description of the Chama River Trail, which sounds pretty tame.

[The Chama River trail is 4.9 miles long. It begins at Forest Road 121 and ends at Orel Cabin.

This trail follows the Chama River to the confluence of the West and East Forks, a splendid view of the upper Chama Basin will be enjoyed. There are rolling meadows and waterfalls that cascade from the cliffs just above.

Following the East Fork the trail passes several beaver ponds which are good for trout fishing. The terrain is gentle and scenic.

Access may be difficult during spring run-off because the Chama River must be forded a couple of times.

The trail is open for the following uses: Horseback riding, mountain biking, backpacking, hiking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing.]

I hope to get up there a day early so I can day hike up and find a good campsite.  You will need to arrange your own car pools.

There is nothing on the maps or the forest service website that would indicate a need for high clearance or 4WD.  I'll be driving in with my minivan.

Elevation: 8750 ft at dispersed campground and about 9,400 ft at the top.

Additional optional hiking is likely.  Possibly up to Chama Lake if my South San Juan Wilderness map is correct.  It's brand new.

Low temps in low 40s and high around 70.  This is best guess.  I cannot see into the future.

Please Note: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release form on file with us. This waiver covers all trips and activities so you only need to sign it once. If you have not already signed this form it can be downloaded from our "Files" section and turned in to the organizer when you arrive for the trip.

Trip Dates: June 28 (Friday evening) thru June 30 (Sunday hike out)

Google Maps says:  Drive Time to Trailhead/Camp Area on Friday Night: 3 hours and 23 minutes from ABQ.

From Chama, NM travel north on highway 17 to the Chama River Road #121, turn left onto road #121, travel about 6 miles north to the Rio Grande NF boundary. Take the left fork and travel about one mile to the trailhead.

Dogs:  Please contact me if you wish to bring your dog.  Unless I change my mind this trip is restricted this to one dog per hiker. Absolutely, positively, you must keep your dog under control at all times.  That does not mean the dog listens after several minutes of yelling. Dogs chasing wildlife, especially large animals, is a big no-no.  National park rangers will cite it as a major reason dogs are required to be on leash if allowed at all.  Let's not give the forest service reason to do the same.  Other bad behavior:  running back and forth on the trail and interfering with the hikers, begging for food during meals and food breaks, aggressive behavior toward other dogs or people, running amok in the tent/food prep/sitting area.

 

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  • Debbie

    This was a beautiful spot and an adventurous hike to find a really cool cabin and see the Chama Falls. Thanks Keith!

    July 6, 2013

    • Jill R.

      It really was beautiful, and contra Keith, more than worth the bushwhacking- or even vice versa.

      July 6, 2013

  • Stephen M

    So sorry, Keith, for the late cancellation. Pet vet emergency trumped our best plans. :(

    June 28, 2013

  • Keith F.

    I was just up there last weekend on the other side of the ridge and we had no smoke. That said, who knows now.

    June 27, 2013

  • Jill R.

    I heard from someone at Pagosa Springs that there's a lot of smoke there- we'll be not that far- has anyone heard how bad the smoke is near Chama?

    June 26, 2013

  • Jeff B.

    Just a note. It's not unusual to see a bear in this area. Bear awareness is important.

    June 26, 2013

  • Stephen M

    hi, Keith. If you have room on the trip, Jackie and I are interested. thx!

    June 24, 2013

  • Jill R.

    I'll b coming from. Santa Fe, and will have space for another person

    June 24, 2013

  • Debbie

    Is there anyone who wants to carpooll to the trailhead. I will need to be back to Abq by 4pm. Let me know if this works for anyone. I can drive.

    June 24, 2013

  • Jill R.

    Keith, i just joined the waitlist. I think you've met my dog- a standard poodle - honey bunch - let me know if you have any concerns

    June 22, 2013

    • Keith F.

      My only concern that I recall from before is the running around the campsite a little out of control. Probably more of a problem when there is more than one dog and they start chasing each other. Just agree to restrain her if she becomes a nuisance to other hikers. Thanks, Keith

      June 23, 2013

  • Debbie

    Hi Keith I joined the waitlist, it sounds like a fun trip. Is there anyone driving from Abq that I can carpool with?

    June 23, 2013

  • Jeff B.

    Hi Keith, If anyone would like to meet here at the ranch before heading to the trail head let me know and I'll post directions.

    June 22, 2013

  • Jeff B.

    I just cleared my schedule for this weekend. I can go if there is room. I know where some beautiful places are where you are going.

    June 19, 2013

  • Jeff B.

    Hi Keith, I live on Yellow Hills Ranch just south of Chama. I'm very familiar with the Chama River Basin. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'm not sure that the weekend you have planned will work for me. I would love to go but will need to see how my prior commitment works out. [masked] [masked]

    June 17, 2013

  • Dave G.

    Wish I could join you, Keith! Was there last fall. Fantastic country!!!

    June 17, 2013

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