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The Taos Gorge in New Mexico in August. Following in the footsteps of other states, New Mexico is looking to capitalize on its vistas, mild weather and culture with the creation of a long-distance trail along one of North America's longest rivers. (Susan Montoya Bryan/AP Photo)

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hikers have embarked on a 500-mile expedition that will traverse New Mexico. The mission: Chart out the best route and identify what challenges might lay ahead as the state moves closer to establishing the Rio Grande Trail.

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press September 6, 2018