West of Taos and Tres Piedras, the Maquinita Canyon Trail system has 6 possible horseback riding routes up two canyons. The Maquinita Canyon area covers about six square miles. It is bounded on the north and east sides by US 64. The area includes two large canyons: Deer Trail Canyon, through which the highway runs, and Maquinita Canyon. Between the two canyons are two gentle valleys. All of these drainages are parallel. They slope downhill to the northeast, and intersect the US 64 at the lower ends. The upper ends of these drainages offer occasional open meadows, a variety of terrain, and are very secluded and picturesque.
The area offers an opportunity to explore since all drainages lead to US 64. However, five routes are recommended Forest Service Map. Trails are marked with blue diamonds. All intersections are marked with arrows on posts showing possible routes.
Deer Trail Bowl is located at the top of Route 1 (see Forest Service Map). It is gentle, open terrain and highly recommended for beginners. If possible a groomed loop will be maintained in bowl. The upper gate recommended for Route 5 (see Forest Service Map) can be used for shortest access to the bowl.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead from Taos, head west on highway US 64 about 27 miles to Tres Piedras. Cross US 285 and continue on US 64 approximately 15 miles to Maquinita Canyon and Forest Road 718 on the left. Forest Road 718 is the entrance for routes 3 and 4. There is a Forest Service bar gate at Forest Road 718. This gate is located approximately 0.7 miles east of junction of US 64 and Forest Road 133.
Entrance A: Routes 1, 2 and 6 begin and end at 9100 feet (2774 meters). Junction of US 64 and Forest Road 795. There is a sign for Forest Road 795 on US Highway 64.
Entrance B: Routes 3 and 4 begin and end at 8640 feet (2633 meters). Junction of US 64 and Forest Road 718. There is a sign for Maquinita Canyon on US Highway 64.
To begin route 1, 2 or 6 continue from Maquinita Canyon approximately 1.5 miles on US 64 to the Trail head (Entrance A). Park there and go south from the highway.
Note that route 5 begins about one mile west of Entrance A (at wire gate) and ends at Entrance B. (Arrange for pick-up at Entrance B).
Route 1: 2.5 miles (4 km)
Route 2: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Route 3: .5 miles (.8 km)
Route 4: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Route 5: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Route 6: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Overall, Maquinita Canyon Trail is the 15th most popular horse trail of all 22 horseback rides in New Mexico.