From sweeping vistas to quiet marshes, the hiking trails of Bosque del Apache NWR offer different sights, sounds and wildlife depending on the season. The trails vary in accessibility and difficulty but all provide wonderful opportunities to experience nature and observe wildlife in solitude or with family and friends. Between April 1st and September 31st bring a leash and enjoy the trails with your dog! Trail guides for some of the trails are available in the visitor center.
Chupadera Wilderness National Recreation Trail
The Loop and Chupadera Trails wind through typical Chihuahuan desert scrub habitat dominated by fourwing salt bush, creosote bush, and mesquite. A gentle climb will lead you to a bench (about 1.5 miles from the trailhead) that offers a panoramic overlook of the refuge and surrounding areas. Hikers may continue on the loop and return to the trailhead and parking area, or they may head to the peak of Chupadera Mountain. An incredible variety of desert plants, reptiles and birds, as well as interesting geological formations can be observed as you gain altitude from the valley floor to the peak.
Canyon National Recreation Trail
This trail takes visitors through native Chihuahuan Desert and into Solitude Canyon, a deep ravine carved into sandstone by flash floods over the ages. Scenic vistas of the canyon and the refuge are favorite photo opportunities. The abundance of burrows, holes, nests, and middens gives evidence to the snakes, lizards, birds, bats, rabbits, kangaroo rats, and other desert wildlife that are active along the trail, especially in the cooler morning and evening hours.This trail also provides access to the Indian Well Wilderness Area.
Marsh Boardwalk Trail
This trail takes you across a semi-permanent wetland that has year-round wildlife viewing opportunities. Cattails and bulrushes hide bitterns, rails, and busy muskrats, and turtles bask on exposed snags in open water. Cormorants, white pelicans, and grebes are common in this area.
Marsh Overlook Trail
This trail takes you through willows and cattails around a seasonally-flooded wetland. Look for secretive marsh birds like bitterns and Virginia rails in the marsh. The trail includes a quarter-mile (round-trip) spur trail to a reflection bench on top of a bluff that overlooks the south end of the refuge and is well worth the ten minute detour.
Rio Viejo Trail
This trail takes you along a former channel of the Rio Grande and winds through a native cottonwood forest. Golden cottonwoods, whispering grasses and an abundance of migrating songbirds make it a must-hike in the fall.
John P. Taylor, Jr. Memorial Trail
This trail takes you into a restored section of cottonwood savannah and salt grass meadow along a historic channel of the Rio Grande. This restoration is a work in progress that is a tribute to late Refuge Biologist John Taylor, whose years of research in salt cedar eradication and native habitat restoration provided a vision for the future of the refuge.
This trail parallels the South Loop and the Elmendorf Canal between the entrance kiosk and the Marsh Overlook Trail. The canal is a popular spot for great blue herons and sunning turtles. The cattails, bulrushes, and willows are favored by flocks of red-winged blackbirds.
Intermittent Tour Road Trail
This trail has 3 separate viewing areas, each providing a different view of the forests and wetlands. The centerpiece of the area is the landscape. The trail overlooks a seasonal wetland to the east that will host cranes, geese and ducks in the fall and winter. Surrounded by cottonwoods and willows with openings in small meadows filled with sunflowers, this trail is spectacular any time of the year.