Archives for posts with tag: Socorro
Orographic Clouds and Moon-Set over the San Mateo Range


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 of rib leading to Osha Peak


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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Polvadera Peak (summit is on right)


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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Pueblo Canyon


The canyon is beautiful. The driving is easy. The solitude is tremendous. Against this, weigh the driving distance, the difficulty of staying on trail and the presence of skittish cattle on this waterway. Experienced hikers – shoulder your packs and go!

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View from Mesa Trail: Timber Peak (left), South Baldy (center) and North Baldy (right).

This 9-mile, figure-8 trail offers a splendidly shaded workout in the Magdalena Mountains. Going counter-clockwise, the lower loop ascends a canyon to reach the mesa top. There you can either stroll up a connector onto the mesa-top loop or you could just descend the lower loop (for a shorter day). Either way, the return path bounces down between vertical cliff bands – a workout! Go if you are introducing a newcomer to New Mexico’s mountains, training while the crest lies under snow, or simply need to stretch out your legs.

There are at least five unsigned trail junctions, do bring maps.

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View to North Baldy (second from left) from the North Baldy Trail


Topping out at 10,673 feet the Magdalena Range offers a variety of life zones, cool canyon bottoms, a sunny crest, views across the immensity of mid-state New Mexico and even an astronomical observatory – providing much to contemplate. All of this (except for the observatory) is on display in this long, lasso-shaped trek.

The word “long” is the operational superlative. The hike covers 20 miles with a summed-ascent of 6,800 feet. Through-hikers may not be impressed, but most folks will want some training-up before making the attempt.

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