Navajo State Park BoR Trail Rehabilitation


Coalition for Recreational Trails

2014 Annual Achievement Award for Outsanding Use of Recreational Trails Program Funds

Environment and Wildlife Category



Project Description

The San Juan River quality water below Navajo Dam is one of the top ten trout fishing locations in North America. Fishing enthusiasts from all over the world come to New Mexico to fish these waters. As such, river access trails need to enable significant year-round traffic. The Navajo Lake State Park managed “BoR” trail descends steeply from a parking lot on NM Highway 511 to the wetlands and river below. With an average gradient over 13% the first 375 feet of trail was badly eroded despite prior attempts at trail stabilization using wooden structures, which were deteriorating.  In addition, the riparian area was being threatened by soil that was being carried into the fragile wetland of the river’s floodplain from the eroding trail. The narrow tread and steep gradient of the trail posed significant safety hazards, especially in wet or frozen conditions.   Since most trail users are seniors wearing chest waders and carrying fishing or hunting gear, it was critical that the trail be safely navigable by low mobility users.  

An RTP project supported the design and reconstruction of the eroded trail. Under the leadership of the New Mexico State Parks Division and in partnership with Professional TrailBuilders’ Association member Reineke Construction, over 2000 modular retaining wall blocks and 43 pre-formed concrete steps were installed by hand in order to improve overall safety and sustainability of the trail. One hundred tons of materials were used to widen the trail tread, reduce the gradient, provide passing/resting areas, reduce tread erosion, and stabilize the steep, highly erodible side slopes. Approximately 12 tons of wooden timbers, pilings and assorted lumber were removed from the trail and were recycled for use elsewhere within Navajo Lake State Park. 

The trail was kept open during construction to accommodate outdoor enthusiasts who travel from around the world to this specific reach of the San Juan River. The construction crew recalls a particularly excited Japanese trail user, who, upon returning from a day of fishing, stopped to show photos of the huge trout he had caught in the catch-and-release-only quality waters that are accessible via the BoR Trail. Despite the language barrier between the crew and the trail user, it was clear that this visitor had an experience of a lifetime!