San Gregorio Reservoir (extreme right) and Nacimeinto Peak

HIke to a high-country pond on a new and splendidly engineered portion of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Streams rush, deer abound, pines tower and the views amaze.

Never worry about being lonesome. Forest Road 70 brings travelers to a campground near the reservoir. On most weekends you will finish the last half mile in the company of fishermen, youth groups, CDT thru-hikers and more. 

Some peaks in New Mexico are “sky islands”, whereas the San Pedro Mountains offers a “sky subcontinent”. There is so much to see – it can be wrenching to return after just one day’s exploration!

Driving Directions:

  • From Interstate-25 (I-25) take exit 242 for NM-165E/Pacitas and US-550. If you are coming from the south then you should stay in the leftmost two lanes of the off-ramp.
  • At the end of the ramp (about 0.3 miles for folks coming from the south), at a stop light, merge onto US-550 going north. (Turn left if you are coming from the Albuquerque, right if you are coming from Santa Fe).
  • After 63.5 miles on US-550 N, just as you are entering Cuba, NM, turn right onto County Road 11. On this date the road-sign was broken-off and read “TY RD 11”. There is a Ranger Station on County Road 11 that is easily visible from US-550.
  • After 0.2 miles on County Road 11 turn left onto Southern All Around Road. There is no road sign at this junction, but you will see a prominient sign saying “Weight Limit 10 Tons”.
  • After 1.1 miles on Southern All Around Road, at a. T-intersection, turn right onto NM-126 S. There is no sign naming NM-126 at the junction, but you will find such a sign after driving about 0.1 miles past the turn.
  • After 1.6 miles on NM-126 turn left onto Eureka Mesa Road (signed). 
  • After 1.6 miles on Eureka Mesa Road, just past the point where it turns to gravel, find a place to park on the side of the road.

Watch for CDT hikers on NM-126 and Eureka Mesa Raod.

Eureka Mesa Road extends uphill from the suggested parking spot. An acequia (a community-built water way) runs right next to the road, so I suggest that visiting drivers stay off of it. 


Subaru at trailhead

The trailhead is just a wide spot off of a dirt road. There are no signs, vault toilets or trash recepticals. An acequia runs nearby. Please be extra careful to leave no trace. I don’t think that anyone will object to your taking a bottle of water, but on this date the silty water would have required some filtering.


Note on this map: the track includes a short side trip off the CDT in the direction of Nacimiento Peak. I thought that there might be a trail to the summit, but if there is one I failed to find it.

  • Distance to reservoir: 7.1-miles (one way)
  • Starting Elevation: 7440-feet
  • Ending Elevation: 9420-feet
  • Net Elevation: 1980-feet

Hike Description:

wide stream going across the trail
Nacimiento Creek crossing

From the trailhead follow the extension to Eureka Mesa Road uphill (east). This is pinyon and juniper territory, with cacti on either side of the road. It might seem odd that the acequia on the right side of the road doesn’t support lusher growth – perhaps the waterway was installed recently? In 0.3 miles a second road comes in from your left (north) and is signed with a CDT marker. Turn north and in less than 100 yards come to the main flow of Nacimiento Creek. The stream was 5 feet across and moving rapidly on this date, something of a jump was necessary to cross dry footed. The road makes a switchback and then, at 0.6 miles from the car, constricts to a single-track trail.

View to Cabezon (bump, right-of-center on the horizon)

And what a trail! An immense amount of labor has been placed into getting the trail cut stably into the hillside. The side-to-side dimension of the tread retains shallow downhill pitch, allowing water to “sheet off” rather then pool on the trail. Trail workers placed water-dips (used to force water off onto the hillside) at roughly 30 foot intervals. Stone walls shore up the trail on terrain drop-offs. If only more trails in New Mexico got such TLC! On this steep terrain the many switchbacks ease the burden of ascent. Don’t get lost in the slog, however, since the views south and west expand dramatically. A bit east of south find Cabezon Peak standing alone. To the west find the vast sweep of dry basins and broad, rock-faced mesas. This part of the CDT gets much sunlight – ascend in the cool of the morning. At 1.1 miles from the trailhead watch for a 20-foot sidetrail leading to an overlook on your right. Soon thereafter the pinyon begins to give way to ponderosa. The terrain steepens further. The tread switchbacks ever more aggressively. Then, at 1.7 miles, the slope angles onto a gentle shoulder. 

Ponderosa Desert

Ponderosa don’t just dominate here. Instead, there is a pine monoculture. Cinnamon-colored tree trunks and open dirt monopolize the scene. Where is the understory? What happened to the gray oak and mountain mahogeny? Where lies the green grass? Ponder this as the tread meanders along forest swales, shucks around deadfall and winds past imposing pines. At 4 miles from the trailhead aspen make an appearance, followed by the first open meadows. On this date the meadows sported brilliant green grasses – even as the last snow patches slowly lose their grip on the high country. Not that the ponderosa surrender! One huge old tree, perhaps four or five feet across, has taken up trailside residence.

Cattle tank at low end of meadows

This is shaded, easy ambling. The high points along the southern rim of the San Pedros make tantilizing appearances through the trees. Deer (possibly elk) crash unseen through nearby forest. In places where the terrain does steepen there are new switchbacks to maintain your even strain. The meadows become linked. This has attracted cattle ranchers and large earthen berms have been erected to capture water. (Watch your footing, as small creatures like to make extensive berm burrows). On this date only one of these cattle tanks still held any water. The rest have filled with silt and become grassed over, looking like croquet pitches misplaced into the wilderness. 

The Bold-But-Not-The-CDT option at trail junction

At 5.6 miles come back to Nacimiento Creek and marvel at the power of it’s flow, way up here near the top of the mesa. On this occasion it took another significant jump to clear the stream dry footed. Clamber up the far back and come to the end of an old logging road. Turn left, and the road immediately returns to a trail-bed. (On your return you will want to know to get off the road). Below the Nacimiento erupts out of the hillside with staggering force, striving to be the planet’s most berserk spring. As it turns out, this is the end of a pipe – that “hillside” is actually a dam and the pipe serves to relieve pressure behind the dam. The trail crosses open meadow and boldly passes through a prominent gate in a barbed wire fence. Wait! Does it? Look downhill (to your right) and you will see a much, much fainter trail going into the woods. That is the CDT trail you’re looking for. (If you follow the bold trail it will peter out in a meadow within 100 yards). 

San Gregorio Reservoir

Follow the CDT through a short patch of woods to where it intersects Forest Road 70 (FR-70). Turn left on FR-70 and follow as it makes a long, sweeping turn to the right. The left side of the road is protected by an extended wooden fence. At the end of this turn you will come to a opening in the fence next to a trail kiosk (signboard). Turn left through the opening and onto the San Gregorio Reservoir Trail, which is part of the CDT. This part of the trail has seen lots of traffic and resembles a trail in a city park. Follow it until, at 7.1 miles from the trailhead, you come to the shores of San Gregorio Reservoir. This is a busy point, so you may want to move further along the shore before you have lunch. The peaklet rising above the lake is called Nacimiento Peak. (The map will show that I followed the “bold trail” searching for a trail to that summit. No luck!). Have lunch, enjoy this rare body of open water, and return the way you came in.


  • This is a terrfic place for novice explorers of New Mexico’s back country. The tread is clear and kind, there is a bailout point at the end, and (potentially) lots of help should you need it. Some folks suffer from acute mountain sickness above 9000 feet, so keep an eye on your party for folks who experience nausea or headaches. More detail here.
  • It isn’t clear if Nacimiento Creek runs all summer long so assess your water needs carefully. I found that 2 liters of water was fine for an early season hike. If you find water running in the acequia then you might consider taking just 1-liter and a filter system. In hot-and-dry seasons you might need as much as 4-liters.
  • Give thought to a camping trip up here. The terrain begs for it.
  • There is a Facebook post (in an invitation group, “Continental Divide Trail 2021”) indicating that there is still substantial snow on the ground about three miles past Lake Gregorio.


Jan’s Jaunts has a page describing a camping trip in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness. The page has numerous photos and some maps to give you suggestions about where you might explore within the park. It is clear that the trails are very well signed.

The CDT that I remember from 2018 followed used a much different track out of Cuba. I believe it took the Los Pines County Road out of Cuba and then took the Lucero Trail up into the San Pedro Wilderness. (AllTrails has a page with a map showing the Lucero Trail). Dan Bedore’s page on hiking the CDT in 2014 describes the old route (scroll down to where he describes his travels on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014). Additionally, there is a Forest Service PDF proposing such a change to the CDT. I mention this because older descriptions of the CDT may describe the old trail rather than this new trail. Caution is advised when consulting older posts. A recent change to the CDT would also explain why it is so hard to find online descriptions of this hike.