Abrigo Peak (far left) and Redondo Peak (right) seen from the road up to the rim

Overview:

The Valle Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) occupies a tremendous bowl cupped by the Jemez Mountains. One and a quarter million years ago a large volcano underwent a super-eruption and left this vast footprint behind. In subsequent years the slopes mellowed, forests cycled through fire and regrowth (fire now ascendent) while broad montane grasslands open to wide-sky vistas. 

There are some designated horse-riding trails in the caldera but few hiking trails. The rule for hikers seems to be, “pick a direction and go”. For that reason your hike will likely differ from the stroll described here. My target was to get to the high point on the Caldera rim. The plan was to cross the Caldera, hike up to the rim and camp, summit Chicoma Peak on the second day and return to the trailhead on the third. Some dry creek beds and monsoon weather rubbished this plan, but that is a trivial complaint. Being in the Valle Caldera is its own splendid reward. Go.

Edit: a reader has pointed out a recently published guide to the VCNP. Could be useful although I haven’t seen it yet. A description cab be found here: https://vcnp-trails.com. My thanks to mtngrrl!

Read the rest of this entry »
Approach to Chupadera Peak ridgeline

Overview:

This easily accessed, moderate, out-and-back hike propels you into the heart of the Chupadera Wilderness Area. The eye could be captured by the many surrounding mountain ranges: the Magdalena Mountains, Socorro Mountains, Manzano Mountains, Oscura Mountains and the Fra Cristobal Mountains. For most, however, the Rio Grande River will ensnare the eye – a slender green filament fluttering against New Mexico’s sere heartland. The trail traverses river bottom, winds through dramatic cliffs and summits on a windy ridge line. Tuck a few family members in the car for a sunny march and a great break from covid confinement.

Read the rest of this entry »
San Lorenzo

Overview:

Despite the map (below), this isn’t really an out-and-back hike. It is, instead, a network of out-and-back hikes that feathers through a small region of insanely gorgeous canyonland. Engage your inner explorer and find your own path through these formations. Pick a cool, sunny day and go. 

This patch of New Mexico is being loved to death. Your effort is needed to support the beauty of the canyon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Overview: 

Mangan Hill (highpoint) and Outlier Hill (bump on left flank)

Covid constraints getting tiresome? Near Socorro? This sunny, short and agreeably lonesome outing is exactly what the doctor ordered. An early start will get you back home in time for some well earned barbecue!

This is a real desert ramble. You will want to be comfortable navigating in this sort of environment and take your desert gear, especially extra water!

Read the rest of this entry »
View of Albuquerque Basin from Trigo Canyon

Overview

Uff! The last six miles of road batters your suspension. The burned crest batters your sensibilities. The thorn brush batters your gear. The clutch of abandoned trails batters your soul. You might ask, “why bother?”. The answer is: Trigo Canyon. In its lower stretches the canyon echos with running water, pools and waterfalls abound, gigantic ponderosa pines tower above you, spectacular rock outcrops tower above the ponderosa, while the sheer walls and route finding challenges add to the attraction. Kick your day into high-gear and stroll up the lower reaches of Trigo Canyon.

It should be admitted that it took me several trips to hike the short distance described here. There are many roads leading to the canyon and finding a good driving route was unexpectedly difficult. The unofficial treads lured me off the main path. The driving directions and hike description (below) might be of particular use for this hike.

Read the rest of this entry »
Sculpted rock formations in the Bisti Wilderness Area

Overview:

The Bisti Wilderness offers pedestal rocks, balancing rocks, seemingly preposterous examples of cantilevered stone, fins, windows, hoodoos, slot canyons, coal seams, clinker, caves, broad desert expanses and views west to the Chuska Mountains and northwest to Arizona’s Carrizo Mountains. On warm winter days it may also include some snow melt, although water is usually scarce here. It does not, however, offer any trails. A GPS is strongly recommended!

Read the rest of this entry »