September 24, 1998
Highlights: Fall will paint the tall aspen groves golden and, with the sounds of the stream and cool mountain air, create a mountain hiker's paradise. Location: Just north of Taos, turn right at traffic light marking intersection of N.M. 522 and U.S. 64. Drive 13 miles on N.M. 150 to trailhead. Round-trip distance: About 5 miles Difficulty: Quite steep and rocky over last mile Elevation: About 9,200-11,200 feet Maps: Carson National Forest Printable map
Gavilan Trail (No. 60)
The beginning of this trail leads toward a stream that cuts Gavilan (Spanish for sparrow hawk) Canyon and switchbacks up a ridge trail through aspen groves and tall mixed conifers.
In addition to spotting unusual birds, take time to enjoy a many-hued palette of mountain flowers, from yellow cinquefoil blending with bright red Indian paintbrush, and the pale violet of Richardson's geraniums next to tiny chickweed blooms. Late fall allows nature a last colorful blast before chilly nights put an end to the blooming.
Greener pastures come into view in an idyllic high meadow dotted with royal blue Western Fringed Gentian, adding an extra reward for the last mile of steep climb. The vast meadow is dotted with tall aspen, corkbark fir and Engelmann spruce, and a small mountain stream snakes through the grass, adding shape to the picture-perfect setting.
Retrace your steps back to the trailhead, or continue up to a ridge trail that connects with other downhill trails.
Sue B. Mann