Three Rivers Trail

Smokey Bear Ranger District
GPS Track
(as .GPX)
White Mountain Wilderness Trails
 T31,  T35, T36 (partial), T44, T46, T47, and T49 are shown as black dashed lines on the map.  The  solid blue line is the border of the White Mountain Wilderness.  The solid green line is T25 Crest Trail.  The red over black dashes indicates that the trail is badly damaged and is closed to the public by Forest Service order.


6.1 miles
6440 - 9860 ft
3420 ft

Forest Service
Contour Interval: 40 feet
White Mountain Wilderness Trails (34 MB)

Godfrey Peak Topo Map  Nogal Peak Topo Map
Route Color Codespaved roads
FS roads, open
FS roads, closed or impassable
main trail(s)
(black dashes)
---connector trail(s)
(green dashes)
---damaged or intermittent trail(s)
(orange over black dashes)
---closed trails(s)
(red over black dashes)
(blue triangle)
blue-triangle.jpgtrail junction
(blue dot)
blue-dot.jpgtrail end
(blue square)


T44 (T46, T47, T49 accessible from T44))  and T53 (T23 accessible from T53)) are the only routes accessible from the west side of the White Wilderness Wilderness..  T44 is one of the most varied trails in Lincoln National Forest. From the lower trailhead, good trail extends about 1.6 miles up canyon and is sporadic beyond that. The variety of vegetation and landforms is considerable. Several natural camping sites are scattered along the canyon bottom, including a significant, primitive campground at mile 3.7 from the lower trailhead. Here also is the mouth of Fall Creek that provides about a third of the water for Three Rivers during part of the year. Mature, stately, mixed conifers are abundant along the lower two-thirds of the path.  There are at least 15 switchbacks and about 24 stream crossings (no bridges) along T 44.

 If accessed from the upper trailhead, the highest portions of this route are often steep, rough, and hard to follow. Open vistas are available until about one mile down canyon, near the beginning of Three Rivers stream (if moisture conditions are right).  A hiker friend reported that , in Fall 2013, T44 was in good shape.


To reach the lower trailhead for T44, begin in Tularosa where US54 separates from US70.  Drive US54 north 16 miles to milepost 96.  Go 0.6 mile more, and note a large Forest Service sign on the left indicating Petroglyphs Picnic Ground, White Mountain Wilderness and Three Rivers Campground. Turn right and follow County Road B030 (leads into County Road B036; also known as FR579), east 13.4 miles to its end in Three Rivers Campground at the T 44 trailhead.

For those wishing to hike down T44, two access routes are suggested:

(1) The upper T44 trailhead can be reached most quickly by hiking up from the end of FR107, Rio Bonito Road, via T36 for the first 1.5 miles. Take T35 for the next 2.4 miles to its common trailhead with T44 at T 25; it is 6.1 miles down T 44 to Three Rivers Campground. Total walking distance is 10.0 miles one way. 
For those who plan to have someone pick them up at Three Rivers Campground, it is an 87 mile, one way drive from the upper end of FR107, via FR107, NM37, NM48, US70, US54, and FR579, to that campground!  To find T36, consult that trail write-up.

 (2) An alternative, yet more spectacular route for reaching the upper end of T44, is to begin from the lower T15 trailhead at the U‑curve on NM532, at the gate to Ski Apache Ski Area. Take T15  0.6 mile to T25; turn left on T25 and hike 5.3 miles to the T44 trailhead. The route crosses the highest elevation point of T25 at 11,200 feet, and passes along the least commonly used portion of the trail, yet provides some of the most splendid vistas found anywhere in Lincoln National Forest.  Be careful; it is easy to lose the trail in a few locations. Grass may be tall enough to obscure the trail by lying over it. To stay on the trail, shuffle your feet to "feel" where the trail goes. To find T15, consult that trail write-up.  Total hiking distance, including descent of T44, is 12.0 miles. Total driving distance between the T 15 trailhead and the beginning of T44 at Three Rivers Campground is 85 miles via NM532, NM48, US70, US54, and FR579!

This link contains a lot of useful information: http://www.ruidoso.net/visitors/outdoors/trailheads/threerivers.html
Lat/Lon hddd mm ss.sUTM/NAD83
TrailheadN33 24 07.6
W105 52 57.4
13 S
Junction of T44 and T25N33 25 45.0
W105 49 48.6
13 S

Last Hiked:  2001Web Page Updated:February 5, 2014
Copyright Lynn Melton 2014Contact: LNFTG14@gmail.com