Archives for posts with tag: hiking in new mexico
View of the Chama River Canyon and a closeup of the canyon rim.
View of Chama Canyon Rim and upriver on the Chama River

Overview:

This high-desert trail eases you off of the soggy banks of the Chama River, ascends past much of recent geological history and then casually saunters a gorgeous rim. Easily accessed, moderately demanding and wonderfully rewarding: check, check, check! Cliffside perils do present themselves – parents of young daydreamers need to be advised. Find a sunny winter’s day and put your boots to work!

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Orographic Clouds and Moon-Set over the San Mateo Range

Overview

In 2014 this guide used “spectacular” and “lush” to describe the Apache Kid Trail to the San Mateo Lookout. Numerous fires have since afflicted the San Mateo Range, but much of the recent damage occurred in the Vick’s Peak Fire of 2020 . This year’s Bear Trap Fire in the San Mateo Mountains burned the west-facing slopes north of Blue Mountain (the range’s high point) but fortunately did not affect the trail described here. The range remains spectacular, but “lush” is grimly absent. 

The original intention for this hike was to climb from Springtime Campground to the crest, then turn south on the Shipman Trail. To my eye the Shipman Trail seemed obliterated (but – see “Links”, below). In contrast, the Apache Kid Trail going north on the crest remains obvious. It seemed reasonable to switch focus to the hiker-friendly tread.

Please be careful. This hike is currently a poor choice for a rainy or windy day!

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View to Gold Hill Summit

Overview:

This is a strenuous workout on an easily accessed and brilliantly maintained trail amidst some of New Mexico’s most famous terrain. The summit lies just above 12,700 feet (which might not be the best for recent arrivals from sea level). Love the spectacular? Go.

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View of rib leading to Osha Peak

Overview:

The Osha Peak Trail is a classic ramble in midstate New Mexico. This out-and-back trail initially runs along the west side of the Manzanos National Forest and then turns abruptly east, barreling up a rib to reach the crest. Along the way you traverse Upper Sonoran (juniper), Transition (ponderosa) and Canadian (Douglas fir) life zones. It is a short walk along the crest to the summit of Osha Peak. Views extend west over the Rio Grande Valley to Ladron Peak and Mt Taylor. Looking east will reveal the enormous dry sweep of the Estancia Basin and the Chupadera Mesa

The down side? The six mile road that brings you to the trailhead is in truly horrible shape. A high clearance vehicle (and full daylight) is currently necessary. 

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Lower Frijoles Canyon

Overview:

Frijoles Canyon is where the gorges get gorgeous; half hike and half secular sacrament. The tread is obvious and the navigation straightforward. Are you new to exploing the high country in New Mexico? This hike was made for you.

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Polvadera Peak (summit is on right)

Overview:

This is a short and steep desert ramble near Socorro, New Mexico. Access is easy if you have a high clearance vehicle. A tall-walled canyon begins the scramble. The steep mountainside accompanies you from lower to upper Sonoran life zones and from the summit a loop can be formed by descending on a trail and two-track back to the trailhead. Find a sunny winter morning and go!

Note on the route – a navigation error sent me barreling into a side-cut in the lower canyon. It was almost slot-like in places and quite attractive, but most hikers will want to study the map (below) and avoid those “bonus miles”.

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