The Columbine-Twining Trail is a little over 14 miles of both natural and paved paths in the Columbine Canyon just outside of Taos, New Mexico. The trail is absolutely dog fur-iendly, as long as you have your pooch leashed on your walk. This is a popular hike during the peak seasons of June through September but is not considered crowded at any time. In fact, you may not see anyone along your hike, or you may pass several groups, so make sure your pup is ready!.
You and Fido can start at the Columbine Canyon Campground Trail #71, which is located eight miles west of Red River and four miles east of Questa on State Highway 38. This trail is marked at the south end of the campground and there is parking available at the gate to the campground. The trailhead areas have restrooms, drinking water, picnic areas and tables, camping, trash receptacles, and even some BBQ grills. However, the campground may charge you a camping fee to use the grills and other amenities, so you should check with the park rangers first. Be sure to bring your own plastic baggies for picking up anything your pup leaves behind. You and the pup can also start at from the Twining Campground Trail #90.
The Columbine-Twining Trail takes you along the Columbine Creek, through the Carson National Forest, along the switchbacks, over several bridges, and above the tree line to the summit of Gold Hill, which is at an elevation of almost 13 thousand feet. You will see some pawesome plants and flowers on your walk including Wood’s rose, juniper, meadow rue, gooseberry, mountain mahogany, larkspur, cottonwood, and many types of wildflowers. Along the way, you will also likely see plenty of wildlife such as the tiny pikas, whitetail deer, squirrels, rabbits, turtles, lizards, and many species of birds including hawks and eagles. Don’t let your pooch pester the wildlife and always be courteous to others along the hike.
According to most, this is an easy hike, albeit a bit long, but that depends on your health, experience, and stamina. You and Fido should always let someone know where and when you are going and when you plan to be back, just in case. In addition, bring a first aid kit, plenty of water, and some snacks to keep up your energy! This is a lengthy hike that passes along many other trails, and it may help to have a map with you. You can download a copy of the map on the website or visit the ranger station on Cruz Alta Road.