Alien Run Trail System
The three stacked loops of Alien Run offer a variety of riding for everyone: swooping flow trail, rim riding, slickrock sessioning, and tight turns among the pinons and junipers. Trails flow through smooth dirt arroyos, traverse along slickrock cliffs, and session through natural technical features. The further one rides from the trailhead, the more difficult the trail; the one-way Outer Limits trail is characterized by sections of rocky climbing, plunging downhill sections, and meandering through dune-like terrain.
It’s a remarkable mix including one of the largest selections of slickrock in New Mexico. Bike Magazine chose Alien Run to represent New Mexico in a March 2008 guide to the 50 states.
The sign at the trailhead shows 5, 10, and 19-mile options, however Outer Limits trail is actually 16 mi, not 19. This description will cover the 10-mile loop. It is directional: ride counter-clockwise. The first section is a nice warmup on dirt tread, swooping in and out of small arroyos just back from the rim of Hart Canyon. Soon you are riding on a mixture of slickrock and distinct trail. At 2.3 mi there is an optional “Black Hole” loop that rolls around the convexities and concavities of the canyon edge. The intermediate rider can follow the arrows but experts will find interesting side features to session. Now the riding is mostly on slickrock with Moab-style paint arrows. Some are faded or missing so a bit of route finding may be needed. At 2.9 miles you can turn left and do the 5-mile loop. Otherwise, carry on along the rim.
Around 3.2 mi you see an example of the design skills of trail designers Al & Deral Saiz of Aztec, NM: the trail leaves the rim and climbs up a canyon through boulders to reach another level of the rim. This terrain change completely alters the character of the trail. Around mile 4, the alleged “UFO Crash Site” is off to the left somewhere. Cue the “Close Encounters” soundtrack! At 4.3 mi you reach the Alien Run Outer Limits option. This is a completely separate loop with very different characteristics. Turning to the north you leave the canyon rim behind. Now the trail changes to tight and swooping turns among pinons, with occasional sandy sections. – Description from Mountain Bike Project.
Trail History: In March of 1948, a UFO was rumored to have been tracked by radar and discovered on a lonely mesa top by U.S. military and scientists. A large metallic object with over a dozen humanoid aliens and strange hieroglyphics inside the craft were found. Trucks disguised as oil field work trucks hauled off the craft and its deceased occupants, leaving the area now known as Alien Run.
Map & Directions
Map Coordinates: 36.8788986, -107.900385
Where's the Trailhead?
dIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD
To main trailhead:
Access Hart Canyon, or from Safeway in Aztec, NM, drive four miles NE on US 550 towards Durango, CO. Make a right on County Road 2770 and drive 3 miles. Take a left turn near a small pumping station and travel .5 miles to the top of the hill. Right turn following a fence for .5 miles and park. Open and close the barb wire gate. Follow signs, tracks and red tags on trees. Rock markers on slickrock sections.
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Trip Reports and Recent Photos
Submitted by: Seth Rozic
Seasonal/Winter Conditions Apply
5 mile loop ranges from dry to moist to icy snow pack. Would advise using caution, especially when coming into corners hot. 10 mile loop can best be described as Type II fun. Only a few other bikes have been on the loop to break trail. Around 4″ of sugar snow with a crust on top for most of the loop makes the flats and uphills tough, and the descents quite interesting with the underlying cobble. Probably best suited for a fat tire bike over a trail bike right now.