Pajarito Canyon Trail and Nail Trail Loop

based on 5 tracks & routes #45 hike out of 338 in
3.4 mi
1 hrs 50 min
656 ft
Elev Gain


The Nail Trail/Pajarito Canyon Loop is a moderate trip with a 600-foot elevation gain in the Santa Fe National Forest. The trails traverse recovering forest that was burned in the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas fires with aspen groves, meadows, and patches of mixed conifer forest. The route crosses the Pajarito Canyon drainage before ascending steeply on an old, rocky road. After the first mile, the trail reaches a plateau and turns left to begin a long drop into Pajarito Canyon. At the canyon bottom, the stream parallels a small stream that is often lined with wildflowers in summer. Views along this stretch show the rugged nature of the east flank of the Jemez Mountains. The Pajarito Canyon Trail alternates from high above the stream to crossing the stream several times. Approaching the end of the loop, the trail passes through the dramatic Pajarito Narrows, a popular rock-climbing location. Just beyond the narrows, the trail splits, the right forks winds up and over a low ridge, the left fork paralleling the stream back to the trailhead.

Getting Started

A small dirt parking area is located just off NM Highway 501 immediately after the highway crosses Pajarito Canyon. A dirt road leads from the parking area to a gate, and the trail begins beyond the gate.

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Public Tracks

There are no published trips for this hike. There are 5 private trips.

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