Archives for posts with tag: New Mexico
Steep meadows before the summit of Timber Peak

Overview:

The South Baldy Trail #11 ascends from a darkling canyon bed up to the sunny ridgeline of the Magdalena Mountains. Access is easy and the grade is moderate. The subsequent views from the Timber Peak Trail #70 sweep the region; from the San Juans in southern Colorado to the Black Range in southern New Mexico. Pick a clear day and go! Novice hikers should know that snow sometimes obscures the trail. If you have doubts about your navigation skill then come anyway, bringing a resolute willingness to turn back when the tread becomes doubtful.

Driving Directions

  • Drive to Socorro, NM on Interstate-25 (I-25)
    • If you are coming from the north (e.g. from Albuquerque) 
      • Take Exit 150 from I-25.
      • After 0.4 miles on the off ramp, at the stop light on the ramp end, go straight ahead onto California Street.
      • After 1.3 miles on California St, at a stoplight, go right onto Spring St.
    • If you are coming from the south (e.g. from Las Cruces)
      • Take Exit 147 from I-25.
      • After 0.7 miles the ramp “invisibly” segues onto California Street, reset your odometer as you go past the first gas station.
      • After 0.6 miles on California St, at a stop light, turn left onto Spring Street.
  • After 0.6 miles on Spring St, at the first stop sign, go left onto US-60 West (signed).
  • After 14.9 miles on US-60 West turn left onto Water Canyon Road. Just before the turn you will see a sign on US-60 saying, “Water Canyon Campground”. There is a state historic marker at the junction as well. 
  • After 4.6 miles on Water Canyon Road, at the Water Canyon Campground (signed), turn left onto Forest Road 235 (signed, roadbed becomes gravel)
  • After 2.1 miles on Forest Road 235, at a wide and level spot on the right side of the road, park at the trailhead. A sign for  “South Baldy Trail No. 11” should be visible. (FR-235 is numbered with small, blue signs about every tenth of a mile, the trailhead is about 100 yards past the blue sign saying “24” and a second sign saying “ELEV 7500 FT”).

A sign at the start of FR-235 recommends against driving the road unless you have a high-suspension, 4-wheel drive vehicle. For now, however, almost any normal passenger car can make it as far as the trailhead.

Trailhead:

Trailhead (double click to get a better view of the sign)

A wide spot on the right side of the road, tucked into the floor of Water Canyon, forms your trailhead. On this date there was some water moving in the canyon, but you should not count on it as a resource. There are no services at the trailhead, although you will pass several campgrounds along FR-235 that have vault toilets. Water Canyon Campground is currently open and you can check on its status here. Important note! About 100 yards before this trailhead there is another trailhead, signed for “South Canyon Trail No. 15”. That is a separate trailhead for a separate trail! 

Data:

  • starting elevation: 7,540
  • ending elevation: 10,510
  • net elevation: 2970
  • distance: 4.3 miles (one way)

Hike Description:

Warm morning sunlight strikes the canyon rim.

At 7500 feet you might expect juniper and pinyon pine, yet this cool canyon shelters a narrow forest of tall and thriving pines. Some have the cinnamon bark of ponderosa pine, but others had a dark gray, vertically furrowed bark typical of a Chihuahua white pine. Recent snowfall has toppled some of the old snags. True to Murphy, these always seem to fall directly across the tread. Dodge those trunks and hike on – all such impediments fade away in less than a half mile. 

South facing wall of Water Canyon

December mornings refrigerate the canyon bottom. Fortunately, the trail departs the canyon bed at 0.8 miles. A long switchback pulls you onto the south-facing wall of the northern-most tributary to Water Canyon. Climb into morning sunshine and feel it going to work! Off come the wool hats and puffy coats. At the switchback’s end the trail turns up-canyon and begins a carefully engineered slog that slowly creeps up the wall – almost reaching the rim. At some point you may want to dash up onto the rim for a fine view down into Copper Canyon and across the east-facing slopes of the Magdalenas.

Snow covered trail

Below you the tributary bottom starts to soar and at 1.9 miles the bed rises to meet the trail. Here, on this date, snow began covering the trail. Those with little navigation experience should recognize this turn-back signal. For others, follow the trail as it crosses the tributary and turns southeast, traversing into the large bowl encompassing the canyon’s headwaters. The trail slaloms between the forested hillocks that dominate the ridgeline. You may hear some traffic noise – the main ridgeline houses both the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) and the Langmuir Laboratory. At 2.9 miles the South Baldy Trail ends at its upper junction with Forest Road 235.

Sign at trail’s intersection with FR-235

If you were to turn right and follow the road uphill you would come to South Baldy, the highest peak in the Magdalenas. For this route, however, turn left and follow the road as it gently descends a quarter mile. Find the heavily weathered sign for Timber Peak Trail #70 at a traffic turnout. (Curiously, the turnout had been plowed – possibly to make room for later snow accumulations). Depart the road and follow the tread up the ridgeline.

South Baldy Peak (MRO is midway across the ridge’s snow field)

A series of bumps populates this ridge. The trail makes several westerly-detours to contour below them. The views are terrific. Above and west of you lies the summit of South Baldy, snow clad in winter and grassland in summer. The MRO is a prominent, white, ridge-top building capped with a shiny aluminum dome. Below and east of you lies the Socorro Mountains. Straight ahead (south) lie views into the depths of Sawmill Canyon. At 3.8 miles the tread rejoins to the ridgeline and barrels straight at Timber Peak.

San Juans (snow capped, left-third on the horizon) and Ladron Peak (right-third, middle distance)

Snowy conditions can make that ascent demanding. Postholing at altitude! A broad meadow graces the flanks of the summit block and it is pitched steeply enough to require kicking steps into the snow. The grade finally gentles and you are guided into a small alcove framed by fir trees. You might think that you’ve arrived. False hope! The true summit lies 20 or so feet above you. This is not technical terrain, but you may have to probe the snow with your boots to find adequate foothold. Finally, at 4.3 miles from the trailhead, join the weather-station sensors crowning this summit.

View over Sawmill Canyon to Hardy Ridge, San Mateo Mts and (visible just above San Mateos) the distant Black Range.

Views include the snow clad San Juan Mountains directly north, Ladron Peak to the northwest, along with hazy views of the Sandia Mountains and Manzano Peak in the Manzano Mountains. To the southwest lie the Oscura Mountains and the rounded dome of Carrizo Peak. Look west, over the vast gulf of Sawmill Canyon, to find San Mateo Peak in the San Mateo Mountains. Beyond the San Mateos (in the far distance) glimpse the north end of the Black Range.

Recommendations:

Author, obscuring your view of the Oscura Mountains

Postholing became a problem above 9500 feet. In preparation, I brought along my elderly MSR snowshoes but failed to examine them closely. Alas! The ancient elastomers that made up the straps had quietly succumbed to old age. I had gone no further than 20 feet when the bootstrap on the left shoe broke. The right shoe straps broke about 100 yards later. Fortunately, it was rare to plunge more than a foot or so. If you have functioning snowshoes take them with you in the car. As you approach on US-60 take a look at the summit of South Baldy. If you can see snow up there then you will want to carry your snowshoes into the upper reaches.

I didn’t carry an ice ax. There was no need for the South Baldy Trail. The Timber Peak Trail has several segments of side-hilling on steep meadows where an ax might be advisable.

On a cool day I went through just one liter of water. I was glad to have two, however, as the sun in the afternoon shone warmly on the west-facing slopes and water breaks were frequent.

Kicking steps at 10,000 feet is hard work. Has your party just come from sea level? Then keep an eye out for signs of acute mountain sickness.

Links:

Solphoto has a writeup and nice photos of the tremendous views you get from the ridge leading to Timber Peak. Check it for what this part of the hike might be like in warm weather.

The Chamber of Commerce in Magdalena, NM has an extensive description (PDF) of nearby trails including the South Baldy Trail and the Timber Peak Trail. Bookmark it if you need route suggestions for hiking in this area.

The HikeArizona site, a great resource, provides a brief description of a variation which you’d hike up the South Baldy Trail No. 11 all the way to South Baldy Peak.

In milder weather folks with high-clearance vehicles drive to the Timber Peak trailhead and do just the upper part of this route. George at Ondafringe has a description with numerous photos to give you an excellent idea of what to expect in warmer seasons, extending the trip to an open part of the ridge beyond Timber Peak.

A post at the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors explains how it is that the South Baldy Trail is in such excellent shape. Thanks to Nick T and all the other volunteers!

Overview:

This could be the most beautiful hike in New Mexico.

High sediment loads in the San Francisco River can give the water a muddy coloration. Don’t be put off! The hike remains gorgeous.

Stay away if the weather looks stormy. Flash flooding is a real risk.

Driving Directions:

  • Drive to Socorro, NM on Interstate-25 (I-25)
  • If you are coming from the north (e.g. from Albuquerque) 
    • Take Exit 150.
    • After 0.4 miles on the off ramp, at the stop light on the ramp end, go straight ahead onto California Street.
    • After 1.3 miles on California St, at a stoplight, go right onto Spring St.
  • If you are coming from the south (e.g. from Las Cruces)
    • Take Exit 147
    • After 0.7 miles the ramp “invisibly” segues onto California Street, reset your odometer as you go past the first gas station.
    • After 0.6 miles on California St, at a stop light, turn left onto Spring Street.
  • After 0.6 miles on Spring St, at the first stop sign, go left onto US-60.
  • After 62.2 miles on US-60, at a blinking yellow light in Datil, NM, turn left onto NM-12 (well signed).
FR-49 is just past this sign
  • After 61.7 miles on NM-12, past mile marker 13 and immediately after the “JTS Park 6” sign, turn right onto Forest Road 49 (gravel)
    • [there is a sign 50 feet down FR-49 (rendered illegible by gun-toting idiots) that seems to identify this road as County Road 113]
  • After 0.4 miles on FR-49, immediately past a small brown Forest Service sign saying “49”, make a hard left turn onto Forest Road 41 (unsigned).
  • After 4.4 miles on FR-41 come to the first ford of the San Francisco River. If you want to leave your car here then there is a rough turn-out on the right side of the road. In nice weather many cars can drive the remaining 1.7 miles to the official trailhead. Know the perils!

Trailhead:

RuTwo on the dirt turnout

The turn-out just before the first ford of the San Francisco River is a weed-covered dirt pad raised a few inches above the road. If you are driving a low-slung car then driving up onto the dirt pad may be awkward. A shovel could be handy if you should need to grade the lip of the rise, especially if a county bulldozer recently been through. There are no services at this trailhead.

Data:

  • high point: 6505
  • low point: 5900 
  • net elevation change: 610 feet
  • distance: 7.1 miles (one way!)

GPS signal gets badly scrambled in the confines of this deep canyon, so the data given above should be treated as rough estimates. Note that wading deep pools and clambering over boulders can make the trip more stressful than the numbers might suggest.

Hike Description:

Road walk in open valley

The first ford of the river was only 6 inches deep and roughly 15 feet wide on this date. The firm sand in the streambed showed little risk of bogging your vehicle if you choose to drive across. A scattering of river stones slightly upstream of the crossing might allow you to make the ford dry footed. This is an exceptionally pleasant road ramble. The six river crossings offer a minor challenge and the terrain is gorgeous. Deep debris fields surround the San Francisco Mountains and the river has etched into these bajadas, leaving tall walls of stony composite that peek at you over the tops of hardwood trees. There was a surprising population of runners and mountain bikers. It would be hard to find a more pleasant training ground.

Well said.

At 1.7 miles arrive at the official trailhead for Trail #762. A kiosk reminds hikers of “bear country” concerns and a second sign warns sternly of flash flooding risk. Head up the trail as it switchbacks onto the bajada top. Single-seed juniper and pinyon pine offer patches of shade. Prickly pear, columnar cacti and banana yucca threaten to poke you. Grama grass blankets the occasional meadow. Lizards and horned toads scurry from your footfall. The tread initially moves northeast; away from the river and avoiding private property bounds. At 3.4 miles from turnout the trail abruptly turns west (to your left, inbound) and traverses towards the canyon entrance. The trail goes through two gates (please close ’em!). At 4.7 miles the tread makes a sharp switchback and begins the steep drop to the river bottom.

Sign at junction with two-track

At 5.2 miles the trail reaches a junction with a two-track. Note the sign so you will know where to depart from the road on your return. Turn right and follow the two track as it leaves the sunny Sonoran and penetrates the leafy domain of the bosque.

Pipe suspended over the river

In a few hundred feet you will see a large rusty pipe (about 12 inches in diameter) fronted by a sign saying “private property”. Begin scanning to your left to find a track that drops down to the river bank and goes underneath the pipe. On the river bank the trail becomes hard to find. Go upstream, about 30 yards past the pipe, then cross to the left-hand bank (looking upstream). The trail stays on that side for less than a quarter mile, then recrosses to the right-hand bank. If you loose the trail just continue upstream.

Entering the Box

The trail departs from the river to cross a wide meadow, then rejoins where the river makes a broad bend to the north. Here the walls begin to rise and press in. Soon there is little or no bank on which to make a trail. Oh ohh. Plunge in. The river is the tread. There is no fixed turn-back point. Hike until your turn-around time arrives. If you need a destination then other reports indicate that there is a warm spring about two miles beyond my turn-back point.

Recommendations:

Author at turn-back point

Take your time. This is not a hike to be rushed!

Bring a great camera. My cell phone camera was not up to the task of recording this amazing trip.

Ice could make this a dangerous and unpleasant trip. Similarly, meltwater from mountain snows could introduce your party to hypothermia. Schedule the hike for the warm weather just-before or just-after New Mexico’s monsoon season.

Monitor the forecast for Luna, NM (upstream) for storms in this area. If you drive over the fords to the trailhead, then even a gently rising stream might prevent you from driving out. A stash of extra food, dry clothing and a good book might make the wait more pleasant.

Soaked boots can get heavy. This hike calls for fast-drying (not “water proof”) shoes. Your electronics need to be protected. Ziplock bags can keep your GPS and phone functioning. On this date I was able to stay (mostly) dry, but only after rolling up the legs of my shorts as high as they could go. Others have reported swimming in order to cross the deeper pools.

I was very happy to have a water filter with me on this hike.

Links:

I’m not certain why the river is so deeply brown. It is possible that char from wildfires is being washed down the stream. Back in 2011 the enormous Wallow wildfire burned the headwaters of the river (south and west of Alpine, AZ), but that seems like a long time ago. We’ve had an active monsoon, so runoff from the rains may contribute as well.

The USDA/Forest Service site has general information and safety alerts. In New Mexico summers it is always useful to check for wildfire warnings.

Doug Scott’s site (a go-to destination for slot canyon hikes) has great maps and some warnings about the seasons to avoid for this hike. One of the maps shows an alternative route that keeps you east of the river until you reach Devil’s canyon (a tributary feeding into the San Francisco River above the Frisco Box). You could return down the river and make a loop out of it.

Sadly, I saw no fish larger than inch-long fry. The restocking efforts might have suffered a setback from the large amounts of suspended sediment. Hopefully the drought is about over, allowing matters to improve.

View to Chain of Craters from NM-117

Overview:

This backpacking route explores a long chain of small volcanic cinder-cones and finishes with a crossing of the El Malpais (“Bad Country”) National Monument on the the dramatic Zuni-Acoma Trail. It features desert grasslands, juniper and ponderosa forest, cinder cones, lava tubes and the opportunity to dance the Scoria Shuffle. This hike could be done as a loop that includes a 20 mile walk on NM-117 (paved). Most hikers will prefer to set up a shuttle or to hitch-hike the paved section.

Driving Directions:

  • From Interstate-40, west of Albuquerque, take exit 89 signed for NM-117 East / Quemado.
  • At the end of the exit ramp turn onto NM-117 East. The initial direction is actually south; west-bound drivers will turn left and and east-bound drivers will turn right.
  • After 14.9 miles on NM-117 turn right into the Zuni-Acoma trailhead. There is a brown Forest Service sign for the trailhead on NM-117. If you are setting up a shuttle then leave the first car here.
  • After 19.2 more miles on NM-117-E turn right onto County Road 42 (dirt). The junction is signed. You can thank your driver and stop hitching when you reach this corner.
  • In less than 0.1 miles on County Road 42, besides an information kiosk (that is, a signboard) on your left, park the second shuttle car.

A sign at the start of County Road 42 warns that this road is unusable when wet. Judging from the deep ruts on this date, that sign is not exaggerating.

Trailhead:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cdt-logo1-Converted-e1450300899983.png
image from the Continental Divide Coalition

Apart from the information posted on the kiosk there are no services at either the Zuni-Acoma trailhead or on Co. Road 42. The CDT leaves from the east side of the Co. Road 42, across the road from the kiosk. Look for cairns or the white and blue plastic tags that mark the trail.

On this route the trail bears northwest, then north, northeast and southeast. All of this meandering is simply described as “north” in the text below.

Data:

Map note: my GPS unit is still misbehaving. The above map is not a GPS-measured track. Instead, it is a “route” traced from the CDT map on Caltopo. The line traced on this map may be somewhat distant from your actual position in the wilderness!

Distance between trailheads: 55.8 miles

Chain of Craters / Zuni-Acoma Elevation Profile

Hike Description:

A loess-filled and grassy depression in the malpais

From the kiosk on County Road 42 find the trail and follow it as it slowly diverges away from the road. This is open desert grassland and the trail usually leaps out at you. But, setting a major pattern, the tread will occasionally play out. Sometimes it simply sinks into the grasses and at other times it weaves into cattle paths that are much better defined than the official trail. Look for cairns. At 1.2 miles from the trailhead the trail arrives at the edge of lava flow. Initially the trail skirts to the left, but soon nerves-up and leaps onto the black and convoluted surface. Bobbing east, ducking north, swerving west and even veering south, the trail tracks lava tubes, chases lava crevasses, mounts lava mounds and dives lava depressions. The last of these can be loess-filled and grassy, but scoria still protrudes above the soil. Watch your footing! That’s hard, because you must also watch constantly for cairns, your only guide across this trackless terrain.

First cinder cones – Cerro Brillante (glowing hill) is the cone on the right

At about 2.2 miles the trail leaves the lava and regains the grassland. The pace picks up as the tread improves. At roughly 5 miles from the trailhead you will see a windmill to the south (on your left for north-bound hikers). On this date the mill appeared to be in good repair and was spinning – there might be some water there. The trail swoops across shallow depressions and threads rocky outcrops, but on balance it gently rises. Very large cairns are placed off the trail on the top of the higher knolls. These may be intended as beacons for the lost. At about 10 miles, nearing the Cerro Brillante cone, a juniper forest makes a tentative first appearance.

Tire tank – also check the barrel nearby, sometimes that water is better.

The tread swings southwest to contour around the small cone adjacent to Cerro Brillante. It then contours north and gains a small amount of vertical (that alarming spike shown in the elevation profile at 12.7 miles). Aside from the scoria underfoot this is very pleasant walking. Ponderosa pines offer gratifying shade. The woodlands are open. Deer, elk and cattle regard you with dark suspicion. At 13.3 miles cross a faint two-track and look to your left to find a water tank made of an old tractor tire. (It is at several hundred yards off-trail). On this date the water in the tank was pretty good, although green enough to encourage careful filtering.

Ponderosa shaded flanks of a cinder cone

The tread bumps upward on the flanks of the next cinder cone and then descends to the plain that will lead to the cone beyond, creating a new pattern. In this way you pass Cerro Colorado (Red Hill), Cerro Negro (Black Hill), Cerro Chatito (Dawn Hill, maybe?) and Cerro Chato (Flat Top Hill? – it is a cratered cone with a huge breach in its northern wall). The trail comes its high point on the flanks of Cerro Lobo (Wolf Hill). The trail is nowhere steep and the ponderosa offer numerous and comfortably shaded rest spots.

Camping on warm and soft duff

Camping between the cinder cones is easy. The conifers put down a lot of duff and level ground is abundant. Beyond Cerro Lobo there is a scattering of very small cones, often hidden by the forest. Then then CDT climbs the flanks of a second cinder cone dubbed “Cerro Negro” and descends to a crossroad at 24.7 miles. Watch for it! If you go off-trail, 0.5 miles to the east along the road, then you will come to a metal tank. On this date the tank had very good water in it. The regulator looked broken – it is possible that the tank has water only when the rancher has recently activated the pump! Return to the trail and continue north.

Shallow earthen tank

The trail, which has been heading almost due-north, now bends to the northeast. Passing Cerro Leonides (Lion Hill), Cerro Americano and Cerrito Comadre (Midwife Hill?), the trail returns to County Road 42 at mile 30.2. Follow the road north (go left if you are north-bound). But, if you happen to be short on water, then first turn right onto the road and walk about 200 yards to an earthen water tank. On this date it was extremely shallow and muddy – but it could be a life saver.

NM-53 crossing the divide

The CDT stays on County Road 42 for the next 5.7 miles. This seems like an odd trail-engineering decision. Soon, however, you come to to a region where the terrain on your right is paved with shattered and knife-edged lava; the reason for staying on the road becomes evident. Towards the end of the road, just past Cerro Bandera (Flag Hill), watch for a second earthen tank on the left side of the road. On this date the tank had barely an inch of water in it, but the water was exceptionally clear. County Road 42 ends at a T-intersection with NM-53, which is paved. Go east (right for hikers going north) on NM-53. At 37.5 miles from the trailhead you regain the signed top of the continental divide.

Whew! An obvious cairn!

The road-walk ends at the El Malpais Information Center, 39.6 miles from the trailhead. The CDT goes into this complex and passes on the west side of the eastern-most building. On the east side of this building is a water faucet. An attendant at the complex said that hikers can use that faucet. There is every conceivable luxury: picnic tables, clean water and even a trash receptacle! Make a meal here because there is no water for the remainder of this hike. Camel-up, fill your bottles and go to the other side of the building to regain the tread. Oddly, this tread gets on top of an earthen berm and stays there for more than a mile. Is it an old railway? An abandoned aquecia? It is hard to say. Past the berm the tread becomes entirely sketchy. The ground is piled with scoria and in many places there is no tread. It becomes routine to stop and scan (and rescan) the surrounding woods to find that next cairn.

Peering into a cave formed by a collapsed lava tube

At 41.8 miles, on ground characterized by brown dirt, brown grass and brown rock, come to a T-intersection with a trail that has been covered with crushed white limestone. Suddenly, almost surreally, you are presented with a foot path that could not be more obvious. Turn left and enjoy this short break from navigational challenges. Those challenges return when the trail brings you to a trailhead boasting vault toilets. Go left around the toilets, where the trail regains its now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t nature. The trail jukes and jives as it winds its way around huge, winding, and partially collapsed lava tubes. Give yourself extra time in this leg of the trip, the footing is an authentic challenge.

Sign at junction with the Zuni-Acoma Trail

Come to the last of the cinder cones, Encerrito, at 47.6 miles from the trailhead. This is the last good opportunity to camp before entering the heart of the malpais. Ponderosa and juniper produce duff here, although the ground bristles with scoria. Setting a tent peg is difficult. The trail loops around the south end of Encerrito. On the east side the CDT reaches a signed junction with the Zuni-Acoma Trail. Go east (right if going north) and follow the combined trails into the heart of the malpais.

Lava landscape in the El Malpais

This is extraordinary terrain. Much of it is naked lava, forming steep hillsides and narrow gullies. Vegetation will not be denied, however, and every crack in the rock is an invitation for claret cup cactus, grama grass, juniper and mullein to colonize. Some of these cracks, moreover, are less like “crazes” in a sidewalk and more like crevasses in a glacier. Stresses in the cooling rock apparently introduced yard-wide gaps, gaps that cleave downward more than 25 feet. Fortunately, trail builders have been at work here for more than a 1000 years. Bridges were constructed by dropping rocks into the crevasses to chock across the gap, then pouring more rocks on top of the chock stones. These bridges makes crevass-crossing much easier, but looking down is still vertigo-inducing. And, again, navigation is not trivial. It takes time, but try to find that next cairn before leaving the previous cairn. Eventually the lava ends. It is just another two miles until, having traveled 54.8 miles, you arrive at the Zuni-Acoma trailhead.

Recommendations:

Finding the trail divisive.

I did this in two and a half days, which was silly. A four day schedule would be better and there is currently enough water to support such a trip. Give yourself time to explore some of the cinder cones and investigate (cautiously) some lava caves.

This has been a markedly cool and wet year. Warm gear was a huge asset at 8000 feet. Good water-filtering gear, including filter-flushing gear, is essential.

The CDT Water Report presents a table listing water reports filed by CDT hikers. This one table covers the entire CDT. As a consequence it is huge and awkward to navigate. The easiest way to get started is to use the “Search By Mile Number” option at the top of the page. If you search for mile number “471.9” (without the quotes) then you should get an entry named “Junction To Water Tank”. This is the first water report on the Chain of Craters segment. It displays the single, most-current report for the tire tank. You can click on the “read more” button to see if there have been other reports for this resource. Browse down the table to check out the remaining water resources – the last relevant report is for the El Malpais Information Center.

Other than the faucet at the El Malpais Information Center, all water resources are provided by ranchers. It would not be possible to hike this stretch without their profound courtesy. Please return the favor by quickly collecting water and moving away from each water source. Your presence can stress the cattle (and wild life) badly.

This is not a good place to test out shoeless hiking! The sharp-edged lava is merciless – even the soles of trail shoes will take a beating. Consider wearing boots since the opportunity to twist an ankle is exceptionally high.

Links:

A short and approachable discussion of the geology of this region is presented by New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources here.

A succinct and well-written discussion of the Chain of Craters portion of this hike can be found at the Four Corners Tourism site, here. (Note that the southern-most portion of the trail no longer stays on County Road 42, but instead departs immediately from the Co Rd 42 at the kiosk).

Rambling Hemlock, an experienced backpacker, has a report on hiking the Chain of Craters as a two day venture in 2015. Some of the water resources were dry, and the hikers got by on the strength of tiny snow patches.

New Mexico Nomad has compiled an extensive report on the outdoor resources near the El Malpais National Monument, including the Narrows Rim Trail. If you are visiting and want to see it all, then this is a valuable resource.