Richards Avenue Trail Constructed Between 3/2/2021 – 3/20/2021

BLM Trail Segments 1984 and 18P

Tree cut down during illegal construction of BLM trail segment 18P, known as “Richards Avenue” on Trailforks and

This new, illegal, trail, named “Richards Avenue”, was constructed between 3/2/2021 and 3/20/2021. The image on the left is high-resolution aerial imagery collected on 3/2/2021.  The image on the right is the same aerial imagery with the ground truth GPS track data recorded on 3/20/2021.  This illegal trail heads north from the existing trail segment (green) BLM 61.

Drag the white image slider back and forth to see that there is zero trace of the trail in the 3/2/2021 imagery, the red track is the ground truth GPS data recorded on 3/20/2021.

The 3/2/2021 aerial imagery shows no traces of BLM Trail Segment #1984 that is found in all Alternative Plans in the BLM published 2019 NEPA Environmental Impact Statement.

In less than 18 days a 1.1-mile trail was illegally constructed across terrain where no trails existed, trees were cut down, and trail beds were cut with picks and shovels into sidehill sections of the trail – and illegal signs were installed!

(Note, you may need to wait for the aerial images to load above)

Elevation profile of the new illegal trail, “Richards Avenue”.

BLM trail segment 1984 shows up on maps, surveyed field data, and alternatives from the Draft Travel Management Plan published in May 2020, however, it does not exist on the ground, and imagery analysis indicates that it never existed on the ground.  This photograph was taken from an elevated vantage point on 11/28/2021 over the area where BLM trail segment 1984 could be seen if it did exist.

Timeline of Ilegal Trail Richards Avenure

  • February 13, 2019, proposed BLM Trail Segment 1984 included in Sombrillo Travel Management Plan Alternative Plans

  • March 2, 2021 high-resolution aerial imagery shows no trace of "Richards Avenue" or BLM Trail Segment 1984

  • March 20, 2021. GPS field assessments measure a newly constructed trail (close to the south part of BLM Segment 1984). GPS tagged photo documentation that this trail was constructed within the last 18 days.

  • April 23, 2021 (illegal) trail signs installed on new trail "Richards Avenue", in close proximity to the south end of BLM Segment 1984

  • April 24, 2021 Movie "Cryptobiotic Crust Wonderland" made of mountain bikers riding on new illegal trail, shared on social media,, and YouTube on April 30, 2021

February 13, 2019

BLM trail segment #1984 referred to and mapped in BLM Environmental Assessment documents.

The south end of proposed BLM Segment 1984 is close to the south end of the new illegal trail Richards Avenue.

February 13, 2019, BLM Document Alternative C Designation for Taos Field Office, Sombrillo Travel Management Area recommends BLM Trail Segment #1984 to be Open.

(Note that trail segment #1984 did not exist when this document was written, on February 13, 2019, and last modified 3/5/2019)

Trail segment #1984 is mapped and discussed in all four Alternatives in the Environmental Assessment (all these documents were created in early 2019).  The southern part of the illegal trail constructed between 3/2/2021 – 3/20/2021 is very close to the proposed BLM Trail Segment 1984.

March 2, 2021

High-resolution aerial imagery shows no trace of this new trail, nor any trace of BLM Trail Segment #1984

High-resolution aerial imagery collected on March 2, 2020, shows no trail in the virgin cryptobiotic soils and area on the map where BLM Alternative C documents show Trail Segment #1984.

A larger version of this aerial image comparison with GPS ground truth data is at the top of this webpage.  The red GPS recorded track is the new illegal trail, “Richards Avenue”, the green GPS recorded track is authorized, existing BLM trail segment #61.

March 20, 2021

GPS field recording of a recently developed mountain bike trail and GPS tagged photographs of freshly cut trees.

March 20, 2021.  GPS field recording of a recently developed mountain bike trail and GPS tagged photographs of freshly cut trees, and new trail beds created with tools.

This evidence proves this illegal trail was constructed sometime between March 2, 2021, and March 20, 2021.

GPS tagged photos of very recent trail construction can be seen at the bottom of this webpage.

April 23, 2021

New trail signs observed, with the name Richards Avenue, GPS photographed very close to the location of the south end of BLM Trail Segment #1984

April 23, 2021.  New trail signs observed, with the name “Richards Avenue“, GPS photographed on BLM Trail Segment #1984.

By this time the new illegal trail was “packed in” from many mountain bikes. In less than 34 days this area went from untouched cryptobiotic crusts to a well-worn illegal trail with signs!

April 30, 2021

This new illegal trail was used in a recent movie, entitled Cryptobiotic Crust Wonderland and shared on social media

April 30, 2021.  This new trail “Richards Avenue” was used as one of the trails seen in a recent movie, entitled “Cryptobiotic Crust Wonderland“, posted to and to  The filming was made on April 25, 2021, and posted in final form to social media on April 30, 2021.

Information for the BLM Trail Inventory Process

BLM Sections 18P and 1984.

  • The south end of section 1984 is the same as 18P
  • The part of section 1984 that heads SE and then NE does not exist on the ground.  It is strange that it is included in the BLM inventory as existing.   We have surveyed the area and taken photos of the area, this part of BLM trail section 1984 did not exist in early December 2021.
  • The south end of section 1984 and all of section 18P was created illegally in March 2021.  It was illegally signed “Richards Avenue” and posted on mountain bike leaderboard sites as “Richards Avenue”.
  • Resource considerations:
    • This illegally constructed trail (March 2021) crosses significant fields of cryptobiotic soil crusts
    • Trees were cut down, and limbs cut on other trees to create this illegal trail
    • The trail segment 18P was cut into ridgelines of highly erodible and sensitive formations

Summary Conclusions on illegal trail Richards Avenue

  1. This illegal trail was constructed between March 2, 2021, and March 20, 2021
  2. This trail was illegally signed “Richards Avenue” between March 20, 2021, and April 23, 2021
  3. This trail was used in a movie named “Cryptobiotic Crust Wonderland” and shared on social media and mountain bike websites on April 30, 2021.  The movie was most likely filmed on April 24, 2021, based on social media evidence
  4. The southern part of this illegal trail is very close to BLM Trail Segment #1984
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