Return to Shortcut Illegal Trail

This new, illegal trail, named “Return to Shortcut,” was constructed in the summer of 2019 as a spur of the most popular trail in the Sombrillo ACEC, the “West Loop” trail (BLM GIS trail segment #45).   It was GPS recorded and photographed on October 11, 2020. Subsequent photographs of resource damage have been made.

Overview satellite map of illegal trail "Return to Shortcut" in Nambe, New Mexico

The trail shown in red (GPS field measurements) on this map was illegally constructed in 2019.   It bisects the “West Loop” trail in the BLM Sombrillo Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Nambé, New Mexico.  It is named “Return to Shortcut” on the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society and websites.

March 2, 2021 imagery

The illegal trail, “Return to Shortcut,” was constructed in 2019. The top image in this slider comparison shows the GPS field measurements of the trail in red.

The bottom image in this slider comparison is aerial imagery taken on March 2, 2021, the top is aerial imagery taken on June 10, 2017.  The illegal trail “Return to Shortcut” can be followed in the 2021 imagery starting at the lower left, indicated by the red arrow. This trail was constructed illegally in 2019.  There is no evidence of this trail in the 2017 aerial imagery.

Elevation profile of trail "Return to Shortcut"

Elevation profile of the illegal trail, “Return to Shortcut”.  The left side of this trail profile corresponds with the south end of the trail.

The northern end of the “Return to Shortcut” trail was marked with a sign “White Rock”, presumably for the white geologic outcropping on the southern portion of the trail — utilized as a mountain bike jump.

Note the name on the illegal trail sign, “White Rock”, is inconsistent with the name of “Return to Shortcut” used on and the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society websites.

The northern end of the “Return to Shortcut” trail was marked with a sign “White Rock”.  This photo was taken on April 23, 2021, at (35.93171 latitude, -105.97235 longitude).

Photographs of Resource Impacts from this Illegal Trail


Off-trail resource damage on the illegal trail “Return to Shortcut”.  Photo taken 10/11/2020


Photo taken 10/11/2020






Resource damage along the illegal trail “Return to Shortcut”. Click on a circled number to see photographs of the damage.

  1. Off-trail damage to soft soils
  2. “White Rock” jump off of soft soil formation
  3. Intentional off-trail riding damage
  4. Water erosion damage
  5. Water erosion damage
  6. Intentional off-trail riding on cryptobiotic crust
  7. Illegal trail built through cryptobiotic crust

Summary Points on Illegal Trail Return to Shortcut

  1. This illegal trail was constructed in 2019.  It was first reported on on September 9, 2019.
  2. This trail was illegally signed “White Rock” sometime before April 23, 2021
  3. The trail bisects the historical “West Loop” trail.
  4. Steep sections of trail and intentionally built jumps have severe erosion, prompting riders to create new “ride-around” trails.
  5. The trail crosses cryptobiotic crusts. Intentional off-trail riding through the cryptobiotic crusts has already caused deep erosion channels.
(c) Copyright - Friends of the Nambe Badlands / All Rights Reserved