The closing of the Glorieta Conference Center nearly a year ago was bound to have some repercussions for the surrounding community. Not the least of these, surely, was that the conference center’s staff of 23 people was reduced to seven employees. In a tight economy, and in a tiny community like nearby Pecos, that was bound to hurt.
Under those circumstances, it may seem churlish to complain about another of the closure’s repercussions: the end of access, for outdoor enthusiasts, to one of the area’s most popular trails.
For decades, hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country ski enthusiasts have been able to access Glorieta Canyon through the conference center property. Parking was easy and safe, and the trail led a pleasant streamside mile or two up the canyon to a ghost town, complete with the remains of vintage vehicles. The more ambitious could continue up 10,220-foot Glorieta Baldy.
When the center closed last November, owners LifeWay Christian Resources promised that public access would remain open. No longer, apparently — hikers recently were confronted with closed gates and no-trespassing signs. According to the center director, public access represents a liability now that the center is closed.
If and when the center reopens briefly, in June and July next summer, the trail may again be open to the public. Otherwise, it’s closed — and likely to remain so unless the 2,000-plus-acre property is sold to a buyer willing to reopen it.
That’s too bad. The Glorieta trail was a nice hike in all seasons, and the conference center access made it easy enough to provide outdoor opportunities to recreation lovers of almost any ability. It’s still possible to access the canyon and Baldy trails by forest road, of course, but that’s a longer and rougher route.
The Santa Fe Conservation Trust and others may try to persuade Lifeway, or a subsequent owner, to re-open the conference center trail access. We wish them luck in the endeavor. While Lifeway’s liability concerns are understandable, the closing of the shortest, easiest access to Glorieta Canyon and the national forest beyond is a loss to the surrounding community.