A key component of any community trail system is public access. ECTA has been advocating for the Town of Taos to re-establish public access to the National Forest on the Outward Link Trail.

The trail has been effectively closed to public access since a neighboring land owner purchased the property on which the trail easement lies with the expressed intent of challenging the easement and closing off the trial.

ECTA had previously tried to address the land owner’s concerns about privacy by offering to build a coyote fence (for free) along their property boundary, but the land owners refused, holding that the only acceptable solution was to close the trail and block their neighbors from accessing a beloved community resource. The landowner began by stringing a wire across the trail which caught a local cyclist unawares as he was returning to town one evening and began a campaign of verbally assaulting trail users.

The Outward Link Trail is an important connector in the local trail system. It starts at the Youth and Family Center, runs along Paseo del Canon, past the Taos Charter School, and connects to the Carson National Forest. It is used by the community and neighboring schools to gain legal access to our public lands — something not available anywhere else between the El Nogal trailhead and Forest Road 437.

Map of the Outward Link Trail established in 2004

As the Outward Link Trail departs the right of way of Paseo del Canon, it aligns along the southern edge of a parcel once owned by the Resh Family. It was the Resh Family that provided the easement in 2004 to the Town of Taos to create a legal and convenient way for the community to access our public lands. This easement was formally adopted by Town Council by Resolution 04-56 in a public session on December 21, 2004, the record of which can be found on subsequent property deeds and title insurance documents found in Taos County’s records. This is what bolsters ECTA’s belief that the easement is valid, despite the new land owner’s claims to the contrary. To verify that, ECTA has retained attorney Dennis Romero to collaborate with the Town of Taos’ attorney to ensure all routes for settling this agreement are considered. 

ECTA does not want to be in opposition to the Town of Taos but is interested in a timely resolution of this conflict between the Town and the new land owners. We will provide all our findings to the Town to support their efforts to regain public access to this valuable trail.

In a meeting with Mayor Maestas in June, he agreed that improved walkability and bike lanes would be a good thing for the community. This reinforces the priorities identified in any number of Town of Taos planning documents: Vision 2020, Town of Taos Bicycle Master Plan, Strong at Heart, Enchanted Circle Trails Plan, Parks and Recreation Master Plan, and the recently adopted Town of Taos Comprehensive Master Plan

ECTA believes it’s a dangerous precedent for private citizens to purchase an acre of property with the express intention of shutting off a public trail that has been enjoyed by the community for more than 15 years. This strikes us as the epitome of entitlement and privilege, and should not be tolerated by easement holders or the community.