Backcountry Horsemen of America
Old Spanish Trail Trek
Autumn of 2014 and Summer of 2015
1200 miles of riding Mules and Horses from Cajon Pass, CA to Santa Fe, New Mexico along the Old Spanish Trail
This ride replicated and commemorated the Old Spanish Trail trading route that linked New Mexico with California during the years 1829 to 1848.
The team consisted of 3 riders, 1 aide de camp and shuttle truck driver, and 2 cinematographers.
Members of Backcountry Horsemen of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico helped us with guidance and logistics.
We rode 600 miles to the Parowan, Utah in October and November of 2014, and rode the final 600 miles from there to Santa Fe, in August and September of 2015, to kick off the Three Trails Conference.
The three trails being, the Spanish Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and Camino Real de Tierra De Adentro, which all met in Santa Fe.
Trail Boss: Richard Waller
The Guide book I wrote on the ride; Old Spanish Trail Guide
The documentary film we made on the ride it is a one hour documentary; Old Spanish Trail Film
Our route is the red print route. We left the south end of Cajon Pass, of it, then followed the Mojave River to its final terminus at Silver Lake, then north to Resting Spring, and east through Nevada and Utah to Parowan, Utah. From Parowan we ride to Koosharem, Fish Lake, Emery, Castle Dale Green River, Moab, Utah. Then through Mancos, Durango, San Ignacio to Carracas Colorado, then through the Carson National Forest, Ghost Ranch, and Abiquiu, finishing in Santa Fe.
The Old Spanish Trail Main Route as it is known is neither old nor Spanish nor a trail. It was first traveled and explored by a group of Americans, under the leadership of William Wolfskill in the fall of 1830. With him on this passage was George C Yount, the northern California town of Yountville was named for him. On this trek too was Francis Ziba Branch. of note to those of us on the Central Coast, Branch settled along the Arroyo Grande Creek and was granted the Santa Manuela Rancho land grant. A curious twist of history, the founder of Arroyo Grande helped pioneer the Old Spanish Trail. Their interest was in trapping beaver in Califorinia's Sierra Nevada and in gathering horses to take back to Santa Fe. Wolfskill, Branch and Yount stayed in CA, tried their hand at hunting otters, but, that did not pay off.
The trail was named the Old Spanish trail by Captain John C. Fremont, who, as with so many things got it wrong.
Rather than upset the whole applecart by trying to retitle a trail that has been known by Old Spanish Trail since Fremont wandered through. I think we can justify calling it simply, The Spanish Trail. That is a little easier to roll off the tongue.