Gilman Tunnels Mountain Bike Loop

 
 

Map

Gilman Tunnels MTB / Road Loop

The Gilman Tunnels Mountain Bike Loop in the Jemez Mountains is a beautiful, easy to intermediate mountain bike ride. There is also an all-road option.

Depending on where you start, ride south on the paved NM4 from Jemez Springs following the delightful cottonwood lined Jemez River in the deep Jemez Canyon to NM485.

The paved NM485 turns west, crossing the Jemez River, then goes through the small town of Gilman following the picturesque Rio Guadalupe. You are surrounded by striking mesas. Ride along the Rio Guadalupe's cascades to the Gilman Tunnels. Then climb through some of the oldest rocks in the Jemez Mountains as the canyon narrows at the Guadalupe Box.

The Gilman tunnels were originally blasted out of the rock in the 1920's for a logging railroad and are quite high. There are several spectacular turnouts on the short climb.

Logging ruins can still be found above the road on Peggy Mesa. There are great views of the Guadalupita and Virgin mesas. There are numerous and several large ruins on the tops of these mesas.

Just past the tunnels the pavement ends. Follow the dirt forest road FR376 to the paved NM126. Then ride east to the paved NM4 at La Cueva for an exciting downhill run to Jemez Springs. On the descent you pass Spence Springs, Battleship Rock, and the Soda Dam is one mile north of Jemez Springs on the downhill to Jemez Springs. The Soda Dam is a formation of mineral deposits next to the highway from a warm springs nearby.

There are a few restaurants and a grocery store in Jemez Springs.

Getting There: Take US550 west from Bernalillo to San Ysidro, then north on NM4 to NM485 or continue on to Jemez Springs. Start in Jemez Springs or one of the picnic areas with bathrooms south of Jemez Springs.

Distance:

  • 43 mile mountain bike loop. Intermediate physically due to the length and the about 2500' elevation gain, easy technically.
  • 40 mile all-road out-and-back option.

Gilman Tunnels - Eric Russell Photo

Gilman Tunnels

Roadway:

  • NM4 and NM126 are paved with light traffic.
  • NM485 is paved from the junction at NM4 to the Gilman tunnels in the Guadalupe box.
  • FR376 (USFS Forest Road) is a hard packed dirt road.
  • US550 is 4-lanes with shoulders & rumble strips.

Options:

  • All-Road Option: stay all on paved roads using NM4, NM485, and US550 at San Ysidro.
  • Riding north on FR376 take the Fenton Lake Rd to the left which hits the paved road at Fenton Lake much sooner than FR376 does (see the map above).
  • See the Velo Valle Grande Ride in the same area.

Notes:

  • Bring food and water. There is a small store at the intersection at La Cueva and a grocery store and several cafes in Jemez Springs.
  • There is a gas station and convenience store at Walatowa on the Jemez Pueblo.
  • There is a USFS Ranger station on the north end of Jemez Springs for information.

A must-see is the amazing East Fork of the Jemez River where it crosses NM4 at about 5.5 miles east of La Cueva. This is a twisty water-course with waterfalls that flows through rock narrows through ponderosa forest. Experience it when the weather is hot so you can splash through the water (you have to wade in places). This isn't a bike ride but is a great afternoon fun hike/splash. There are parking lots at about 5.5 miles and 10 miles east of La Cueva at the two ends of the route which is about 4.25 miles in length. East to west is a good direction. At the west end people jump off nearby cliffs into large pools but beware of underwater obstructions. See the map on the Velo Valle Grande ride.

  • Jemez State Monument - 17th century Spanish mission ruins and the 500 year old village of Giusewa. At the north end of Jemez Springs. (Museum of New Mexico)
  • Soda Dam - An interesting mineral deposit and warm spring north of Jemez Springs.
  • Jemez Falls - Very nice falls and campground / picnic area east of La Cueva.
  • Santa Fe National Forest | Maps
  • Valles Caldera Recreation Area is east of La Cueva.
 


Gilman Tunnels MTB Loop CueSheet // 43 miles, on/off-road
Mileage Waypoint Leg Description

0

Jemez Springs Start. Ride south on paved NM4 to the junction with NM485 following the Jemez River.

 8

NM4 & NM485 Turn right (west) and cross the Jemez River and climb riding through the Guadalupe Canyon. Pass through the small town of Gilman about 3-3/4 miles from the turnoff.. Climb up following the cascades to the Gilman Tunnels.

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Gilman Tunnels There are nice overlooks of the cascades. Take time to look at the rock in the surrounding area. It is some of the oldest in New Mexico. The pavement ends just past the tunnels.
Continue north on the dirt Forest Road 376. Go past the turnoff to Peggy Mesa about .75 miles past the tunnels. Continue on FR376 to NM126. FR376 climbs 2,400'.

Option: Follow the Fenton Lake Rd to NM126. It is about 3-1/4 miles to NM126 from the junction of FR376 / Fenton Lake Rd. so there is more distance on the paved NM126.

 30

NM126 Turn right (east) on paved NM126 to La Cueva.

 34

La Cueva Turn right (south) on paved NM4 and race downhill past Battleship Rock and the Soda Dam to Jemez Springs.

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Jemez Springs  

Mountain Bike Loop Elevation Profile

A steady 2,400' climb on the paved NM485, dirt FR376, and paved NM126 loop.

Elevation Profile


All-Road Option

This option rides west on US550 toward San Ysidro with the Jemez Mountains in the background. That's White Mesa straight ahead with the white gypsum mines on top. During the week there are trucks hauling gypsum to the sheet rock plant in Bernalillo. After crossing the Rio Salado, enter San Ysidro where there is a convenience store. Turning right on NM4 travel through San Ysidro and begin the gradual climb to Jemez Pueblo. You ride north through the picturesque Jemez River canyon. There is another stop at the Jemez Pueblo Walotawa Visitor Center and gas station at Red Rocks. Then you follow the pleasant, cottonwood tree lined Jemez River to the intersection with NM485. Then left and climb Guadalupe Canyon surrounded by dramatic mesas through the small town of Gilman to the tunnels and the end of pavement. On the return route you have impressive views of the Sandia Mountains to the east in front of you along US550.

The ride is gradual, steady climb through the picturesque Jemez mountains, about 1,000' in, mostly downhill out. There are some rolling hills on US550. It is often windy and hot in the afternoon, get an early start.

Getting There: Take US550 west about 18 miles from Bernalillo to the Big Chief gas station across from the Zia Pueblo.

Distance: ~40 miles.

Roadway:

  • NM4 is paved with light traffic.
  • NM485 is paved from the junction at NM4 to the Gilman tunnels in the Guadalupe box with little to no traffic.
  • US550 is 4-lanes, fast traffic (70mph) with comfortable ~clean shoulders & rumble strips.

Notes:

  • There is a convienence store at the intersection in San Ysidro at US550 & NM4.
  • There is a gas station and convenience store at Walatowa on the Jemez Pueblo.

Options:

Gilman Tunnels All-Road Option Out-and-Back CueSheet // ~42 miles
Mileage Waypoint Leg Description

0

Big Chief Gas Station Start at the Zia pueblo on US550 west of Bernalillo. Ride west on 550 to San Ysidro.

 5.75

San Ysidro - NM4 Turn right (north) at the junction with NM4 and ride through picturesque San Ysidro. Ride through the Jemez Pueblo to the convince store at Walatowa. Continue north on NM4 to the junction with NM485

 15.3

NM4 & NM485 Turn left (west) and cross the Jemez River and climb riding through the Guadalupe Canyon. Pass through the small town of Gilman about 3-3/4 miles from the turnoff. Climb up following the cascades to the Gilman Tunnels. The pavement ends just past the tunnels about 6 miles from the turnoff.

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Pavement End Return by the same route.

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Big Chief gas station