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[cdt-l] CDT Planning - New Mexico (long)
We both kept trail notes for the routes we hiked. For those who might be
interested, these are the combined notes for our route through New Mexico.
This is long – and won’t make a lot of sense if you don’t have the CDTS (Jim
Wolf) Northern New Mexico book as well as the NM maps.
There are many other routes that have been followed – some of them involving
long roadwalks through or around the Tierra Amarilla north of Ghost Ranch.
But we were here, in part, to check out Jim Wolf’s route through northern
New Mexico and in part because it avoided paved roads and went through the
mountains in the Carson NF. We thought his route was a good one.
Our route through southern New Mexico was based partly on Wolf’s recommended
route, partly on routes suggested by other hikers and BLM personnel (yes,
some of them DO know what they’re talking about), and partly on
circumstances that forced changes along the way. As you will read, parts of
the route were very good (through the Gila, through the Cebolla Wilderness)
and parts were not ideal. We are not recommending you follow our route,
just trying to give an idea of what you will find if you do follow all or
part of the route. We would love to hear from others who followed other
routes, to get an idea of what they found along the way. We have some ideas
of what we’d like to do next time, but we’re flexible.
Large parts of the CDT in New Mexico follow dirt roads. We rarely saw any
traffic on the roads we followed, so it wasn’t a problem for us, especially
after so many months on the trail. We tried to follow trails as much as
possible, or dirt roads rather than highways, but a lot of roadwalking was
unavoidable. For northbounders, the roads are easy walking, but may be a
less interesting way of starting a hike than starting in “real” mountains.
Remember, this too shall pass. The real desert is mostly south of the Gila,
except a small area around the Chama River. And it is very different from
the Mojave or Sonora type deserts. Much of the trail was pinyon/juniper
grasslands, except where you go up in elevation – like in the Gila, San
Pedro Parks or the Carson NF when we were 9-10,000’ high.
As some of you know, there are several contentious sections along what’s
projected to be the “official” route – specifically the Chain of Craters
route with its 40+ mile waterless stretch through the Malpais (we didn’t go
that way), and a long walk through a burned over section of the Black Range
with hundreds of blowdowns to climb over and around (we did part of this
section and won’t do it again). You’ll have to decide which way you want
to go – but I’d advise getting input from someone who’s been there before
committing yourself to a particular route. I’ll repeat what’s been said
before – just because it’s “Official” trail doesn’t mean it’s the best, the
most scenic, the most hiker friendly, the easiest --- or even worth doing.
The “Official” trail, for example, makes a long eastern jog and goes down
the Black Range then back west to Silver City, not because it’s the ‘best
trail’ but because the ‘bureaucracy’ decided to “minimize traffic” through
the Gila and avoid the Cliff Dwellings. We think following the Gila
(either branch) is a much more scenic and interesting route. More than
that, we were totally unable to find any sign of the official trail in three
places where it supposedly crossed our route. Nuff said.
Again – these notes won’t make sense without the maps and, in Northern NM,
Jim Wolf’s (CDTS) guidebook. And remember, we were going North to South
starting at Cumbres Pass – not at Chama.
At this time (Feb 2001), there is only one guidebook (the CDTS Northern New
Mexico book). The “Official” guidebook has yet to be published. Not only
that, but due to local political situations, a large part of the NM route is
likely to remain ‘undesignated’ for the foreseeable future.
Another point to keep in mind - these notes are the water situtation as we
found it in November 1999. Wells break and ponds go dry. There may be new
wells or more dismantled ones. As private lands are traded to the
government (i.e. around the Malpais), the land managers may choose not to
maintain the water sources as the grazers did. YMMV
Definitions (in this context) -
“Stock tank” means a metal tank fed by a spring or electric pump. Windmill
fed tanks are specified as “windmills”
“Stock pond” means a bulldozed depression that may or may not have water.
If it has water, it’s usually a mud-hole and the water is hard to get at.
Don’t fall in – the mud can be knee-deep.
Carson National Forest, Section 1: Cumbres Pass to US 64
We followed the Land Grant fence instead of descending into Rio San Antonio.
There was one nasty gully, but the rest of the four miles was
They have bulldozed closed the jeep track from about 27-36. Lots of tank
traps. It doesn’t stop the ATVs--the country is open so they just go
around--but it is a nuisance for hikers.
After 33.6, we got off track and ended up on the highway. We may have
missed a turn, or the bulldozer may have buried it.
Section 2: US 64 to NM 110
Reality didn’t quite match the description. There was no culvert or swinging
metal gate. There was an immediate split in the road. Left went to a
campsite and may have continued beyond. Right was a good used jeep track
which we followed, with other tracks splitting off. Never saw a T-junction,
just a couple of Ys. Didn’t see a pond at 0.6, it may have been dry at that
time of year. There were 3 cabins. The trail crosses beyond (not at) the
3rd. The road heading to the cabin deadends shortly past it.
Mile 3.9: the trail disappears in a rock pile. There was snow on the
ground, which didn’t help. We climbed steeply up over the ridge through
woods to Rio Vallecito and the confluence with Placer Creek.
Mile 7.0: the north-south fence is gone (still visible to the left, but
not near the fenceline.) From 7.1-7.5 there are two ridges, not one. At
8.1 there are traces of an old road and a cowpath leading to the pond. From
there, I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to head toward the creek on the
left or the one on the right. We went right and followed an old logging
road to the shed at 9.3.
Mile 19.1: the junction has become obscure. The FS bulldozed the roads in
both directions and put up a half-fence across the road to 15 Springs. It
would be easy to miss the turn, except that the fence draws the eye. Once
past that, it was easy going.
Mile 23.4-24.7: the trail was very obscure and ended as a straight bushwhack
down to FR 130.
Section 3: NM 110 to Yeso Tank
We decided to try FR 724A instead of the bushwhack route. It was an easy
climb. There was a piped spring about a mile up. The private land had a
couple of cabin ruins, but nothing inhabited. The road is obviously used by
hunters and all gates were open. Nice views south and west.
Harris Bear Spring: you should note that you can get there by staying on the
road. I was paranoid about not finding it, especially when the trail we
followed from the gully was so faint. Leaving the spring, we just stayed on
the road since the cows were blocking the other route. The description
makes it sound hard to find, half a mile off the road, but it’s right on the
At FR 337, the first road is signed as FR 636, with 636A 100 yards beyond.
Past the spring, 636A crosses 636 at an angle, but there is no 100 yard jog
to the left.
FR 677C isn’t signed any more. It is a nice walk with good views and good
dry campsites until it deadends in a logged area.
We never found West Cisneros Spring on 636A.
Section 4: Yeso Tank to Ghost Ranch
The descent toward Ghost Ranch needs to be reworked. We bushwhacked down
the hill and ended at the "wagon road" but didn’t realize it would take us
straight to Ghost Ranch. Instead, we crossed the stream to the "pack trail"
(old road) and followed it downstream. It climbed back up to the plateau on
the other side. Two hours of bushwhacking ensued before we finally went
back to the beginning, the old red road, followed it in the other direction,
and found a straightforward, though rough, trail down. It would be much
easier to skip the ranch, following the roads around, but the area is so
beautiful, it was worth the trip.
The Ghost Ranch Living Museum was closed – we got water there, but that’s
all that was available.
Santa Fe National Forest, Section 1: US 84 to NM 96
There is no camping at the Chama River access place mentioned at mile 5.4,
though there is an outhouse. There is a dispersed camp area at about 5.8.
We couldn’t find the spring at 8.4. The one at 9.4 was barely visible. It’s
a green stock trough to the right of the trail that barely shows through the
grass and sage.
The water at 17.3 may not be evident. Higher up we found water, beyond an
Fence at 24.4 is at 10 feet, not 100. There is a gate in the second fence.
You could avoid crawling under the fence by continuing down NM 96, I think.
The road is used by hunters and wood gatherers, so there must be an opening
on the highway.
Mile 25.7: There is a split in the road. We went left and met up with the
jeep trail at 25.9.
Section 2: NM 96-Cuba:
There is water in an irrigation ditch beside the road off and on from
There was confusion re the road numbers, and the maps don’t help at all.
At 2.8, 1161 heads right - a very faint track. At 3.3, 1162 heads left - a
good road. At 3.7, 1163 heads right. The road at 4.5 wasn’t signed.
Piedra Lumbre Segment, Section 1: Cuba to Ojo Jarido
The windmill at 5.7 was operational.
Ojo Jarido is located about 12.5 miles from Cuba in Arroyo Jarido. The
spring is in a cave inside a fenced enclosure on the north side of the
arroyo. The enclosure is fenced to keep stock and wildlife out, but there’s
a stock tank outside the enclosure that was a better water source than the
spring. It’s very green.
Section 2: Ojo Jarido to Cabezon
We missed the turn at 1.4, just kept going to the power line at 3.3 and
followed the powerline maintenance road south to Piedra Lumbre Road. It
heads due south, so there is no need to bushwhack down to Piedra Lumbre
Road. There is a stock pond just south of the junction with Piedra Lumbre
Road that had water.
Zambarno Lake was dry.
Past the pump station at 20.7, there’s a stock pond on the left. There’s
an electrically pumped well just before the stock pond but it wasn’t
operational when we were there. 1 mile before the turn onto NM 279 there
are stock tanks on the right.
At the Cabezon turnoff there are 2 spigots located in a vertical drain pipe
at the top of the hill. Don’t miss them – some people have and it’s a long
way to the next water.
We met Charlie McCarthy of the New Mexico Mountain Club at the Cabezon
spigots. He has designed an entirely new route between Cuba and the
National Forest. They had completed the 25 miles north of Ojo do los Indios
when we met him, and were working on the next 25 miles to Cuba. He said
there is no treadway, just cairns. He said it was pretty rough, but a couple
of this year’s hikers found it and followed the route. It has water (but
not the faucets at Cabezon) but could be slow going bushwhacking through the
desert and up to the mesa.
Mount Taylor Segment, Section 1: Cabezon to Ojo de los Indios
At 8.6 - Don’t get water out of Arroyo Chico – it’s salt. Notice the salt
deposits through this section.
The turnoff (and sign) to Barrel Spring is at 13.5 – the spring is shown on
the map, but according to Charlie, no one can find Barrel Spring, despite
Ojo Frio is reported to be good, but we didn’t check it.
Up on the plateau, all the side roads have been closed off, so the
junctions at 21.6 and 22.2 have become pretty obscure. We never saw the
It’s 24 miles from Cabezon to Ojo de los Indios. At the fence line where
BLM 1102 meets FS 239 (the boundary between BLM and FS lands) follow the
fence line west. Cross the first ridge to the edge of 200’ deep Arroyo de
los Indios. There’s an old road that leads down into the arroyo. The
spring is in the bottom of the arroyo and can be seen from the road.
Section 2: Ojo de los Indios to American Canyon
Is entirely roadwalk unless you choose to bushwhack. Not necessarily a
Section 3: American Canyon to Grants
American Canyon: They moved the road (FR 453) between miles 4.6 and 5.6,
affecting access to both springs. For Lower American spring, go straight
back toward the canyon at the gate at 4.6 instead of climbing on the road.
The old road is obvious – they’ve closed it with tank traps. Or, if you do
climb, stop at the open/camp area at the saddle and drop down the gully 200
yards to the old road. The spring is visible from the old road.
The new road stays on the west side of American Canyon. At 5.6 there is a
T-junction with FR 451. There is no road sign except "American Canyon Green
Aspen" at a clearcut at the junction. To get to American Spring, turn left
on 451 for about 0.2 mi to the old junction. The spring is downhill to the
left, below the rock outcropping.
If you don’t need water, go left about 50 feet at the T-junction and follow
rough jeep track straight up through the clearcut. It will connect with 453
in about 100 yards.
Cold Spring is on the way up Mount Taylor – but the location is a complete
mystery. Certainly doesn’t correspond to the map location and the locals
don’t know where it is either.
Gooseberry Spring had water. Then 1½ miles past the Gooseberry Spring
trailhead there’s a water tank on the left. Tom Bombaci’s route down off
the mesa was hard to find. It was flagged, but we lost the flags after the
second one, then picked it up again purely by accident by continuing down
the road to where it crossed again. At the bottom of the ridge there was
water at Little Turkey Spring.
The guidebook only gives details as far as Grants.
Grants to Pie Town: This is “our” route – sorta. It was recommended by Tom
Bombaci, Jim Wolf and the BLM personnel in Grants -- We used the Delorme
maps for this stretch.
>From First St in Grants, head 1 mile north on NM 124 (old US 66), then left
Cross I-40 on the bridge across from McDonalds, then right on Zuni Canyon
Road (NM 49)just past the campground. Zuni Canyon Road becomes a gravel
road after about 3 miles. Zuni Canyon has an electric-pumped stock tank on
the right about 10 miles out of town. Pretty area, but a busy road. The
trail could follow the old rail line just left of the road, with very little
Turn left on Bonita Canyon Road (NM 447) – El Malpais Spring is supposed to
be behind the historical marker on Zuni Canyon Road ¼ mile beyond the
intersection of Zuni Canyon and Bonita Canyon Roads. The stock tank is a
The turn down Bonito Canyon is at about 10.5. Memory says there is a stock
pond on the right ¼ mile down Bonita Canyon Road and then another about a
mile later. The windmill 3 miles down Bonito Canyon Road was broken and had
no water. There was a tiny pond just past it. The windmill may have been
fixed since then - there was a repair crew out on that road the next
morning. Five miles down Bonito Canyon there was another good well just off
the road to the right. There was camping in the pines nearby. Three miles
later, about 200 yards to the left, there was a working windmill. It’s 2.5
miles from there to NM 53 and the Zuni-Acoma Trailhead.
Hope you tanked up before this, cause the next water is on the other side of
the Malpais. At the Bonita Canyon Road/Rt 53 intersection is the western
trailhead for the Zuni-Acoma Trail. There’s an outhouse, but no water at
the trailhead. The literature says the Zuni Acoma trail is 7.5 miles across
there. If so (and I doubt it) it’s a LONG 7.5 miles. Walking through the
Malpais (lava beds) can be fun for a while, but it gets old real fast.
Once you get to paved NM 117 (near milepost 42) turn right. After ¼ mile
south there’s a non-operational well on the right. Another ¼ mile there’s a
non-operational windmill on the left directly in front of Los Pilares (big
rock formation). Across the road, there’s a nasty shallow pond and a couple
of dry stock tanks.
If you look across the road you’ll see La Vieja – another distinctive rock
formation. If you go through the small gate and walk around the back of Los
Pilares, theres a stock pond. There were two hidden ponds, one dry, one with
a lot of water. It’s been unused for some time – but it’s still
green/brown/grey. But it’s water - and it’s 11 miles to the next water
source. Be grateful.
Follow NM 117 south past La Ventana. La Ventana is at MP 39 and has an
outhouse, but no water. It is definitely worth a visit. There was a stock
pond across the road, but it would be hard to get to because of a new barbed
wire fence. There is a (dry) campsite at the Narrows with a port-a-potty at
MP 35. We didn’t find the windmill that was supposed to be near MP 34.
We followed the BLM ranger’s recommended route through the Cebolla
Wilderness. Just past MP 31, turn down an unmarked road, through a gate
into Cebolla Canyon. This is BLM land. There were working windmills near
the turn and one mile down the road. About 2.5 miles down Cibolla Canyon,
take the right fork and head down Sand Canyon. There’s a windmill on the
left fork that appeared to be operational but we didn’t check it out. About
a mile further on the road up Sand Canyon there’s a stock pond on the left.
About 10 miles from the highway, turn right at the top of a steep long hill,
at the top of the ridge. Make a right through a gate onto a very old jeep
track and follow it into Armijo Canyon. There’s a windmill on Sand Canyon
Road ¾ mile beyond the turnoff into Armijo Canyon. We didn’t go there, but
the BLM advertises it as being operational and there were trucks down there,
so it probably is. The ranger said that following that route is longer and
with more elevation change than heading out Armijo Canyon.
There was a stock pond 1/3 mile down the hill, and one before the turn
toward Armijo. About 3 miles down Armijo Canyon there’s a water tank and
the remains of an adobe cabin, the remains of an older wooden one, and
another muddy stock pond. The stock pond has water – but Armijo Spring has
better water. The spring is in a springhouse at the top of the draw to the
right. It’s about ¼ mile and 300 ft elevation above the house, near the top
of the mesa. But the water is worth it. Use a filter – the amphibian
livestock is active and plentiful. Good protein for your dinner :-)
NM 41 is 5 miles down Armijo Canyon. About a mile from the road we lost the
jeep track/cow path we were following, so missed the windmill that is
supposed to be at the mouth of the canyon. It may be gone. It was an easy
bushwhack out to the road. For northbounders, it might be as easy to just
bushwhack into the canyon. If not, turn opposite the ranch.
Turn left on NM 41. There are 2 non-operational windmills – the first at 3
miles on the right, the second at 4 ½ miles on the left south of the King
Bros HQ. 11 ½ miles down NM 41 there’s a cabin/ old store on the right with
a windmill in back. The windmill may be operational in 2000. The people
who bought the old store (built about 1910) intend to fix their well and
were happy to let hikers get water. (Anyone know if their well was
2 ½ miles beyond the cabin is Freeland Arroyo, with a broken windmill on the
right. Don’t bother – ¼ mile south (up the hill) is an electrically
operated stock tank that is operational. There was a good well about 3
miles north of Pie Town, just north of the junction with 601.
It was about 85 miles from Grants to Pie Town, by this route.
Pie Town to NM 12:
Pie Town has only one café, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, plus the PO.
There is no longer a store there or a gas station. South of town, the only
water is at the ranches. It was an interesting walk though, with lots of
volcanic plugs and an interesting ridge. There were no ponds or tanks near
the road, and the springs off road and the windmills are on posted private
land. We got water at a ranch at Greens Gap Road intersection.
There was a windmill about 200 yards off the road (NW) at Cottonwood Draw
about 15 miles southwest of town. There’s a steel gate on the left and a
small steel gate on the right, between 2 volcanic domes. There’s an
operational windmill about 100 yards down the draw to the right.
Another 2 miles south, theres a stock pond on the left. 1 mile south
there’s a stock tank on the right at the intersection with the Mangas Road.
The well and windmill near the National Forest boundary were broken, as was
the windmill at the Jones Ranch. There were 3 or 4 stock impoundments on
the way up Mangas Mountain. ½ mile after the cutoff on FS 322 there’s a
dry well on the left, but there’s a stock pond above. The well shown on the
BLM map isn’t there.
The next water is the Valle Tio Vinces spring on the south side of Mangas
Mountain. The horse troughs at Tio Vinces, fed by the spring, were all we
found at the campground. Very green!
The map shows the trail leaving FR 11 just 1/2 mile past FS 13 on FS
218. There is a road in between that is not shown on the map. It leads to
a tiny spring, then dead-ends. There were a few water impoundments, with
water, in the 12 miles to NM 12.
It was about 42 miles from Pie Town to NM12.
NM 12 to the Gila :
Reserve was a long slow 35 mile hitch, but the town was a decent trail town,
with good grocery, two motels, and several restaurants.
In both directions at NM 12 there are road forks just off the highway.
In both cases, take the left fork. One mile south of NM 12 there is a
working windmill and tank.
Damian Spring was dry down near the trail, but there was water 200-300
yards up the draw. The foot trail leaves the road about 0.2 before the
spring, just before the ruins of a cabin. It is well blazed, but there was
no treadway at the turn. We built a cairn, but it is still obscure. The
foot trail climbs 1300’ over Wagontongue. It briefly joins a jeep track
about 1 mile down the back side, then takes off along the Divide for another
mile before joining a jeep road that leads to FR 289. The blazing is good,
so if you lose the blazes, you missed a turn. The road twists and turns
much more than the trail shown on the map. It doesn’t follow the Divide,
but goes in and out of each drainage.
Just past John Kerr, the trail leaves the road and heads south on a
roller coaster pack trail for 6-7 miles to FR 94.
Dutchman Spring is east down FR 94 about 3/4 mile. It is the first water
since Damian Spring, 15-16 miles north. It’s very small and may dry up.
Another 0.3 down FR 94 was a cattle pond, which looked like a good water
source if the spring is dry. Both are easy to find. The spring is at a
hairpin turn, about 20 feet up on the left. The pond is about 100 yds left
of the road. If you stay on the route over Eagle Peak the next water is
about 7-8 miles, I think. We were told there was burn damage along the
ridge from a big fire in 1998 (a controlled burn that got out of control.)
We needed water, so took the road instead.
Davis Spring is a metal tank just to the right of FR 94 about 3.5 miles
south of Dutchman.
The windmill at the junction of FS 28 and FS 94 was dry. It is about 10
miles from the saddle where we picked up 94 to the first junction with 28.
It was 2 miles to the second junction.
There was a little water in a creek beside the road a couple of miles before
the junction where a side road turns in to private property.
Turkey Spring, about 10 miles south of Davis Spring, is a good spring 3/4
mile off FS 28.
Negrito Fire Base, if occupied, is a good source of water. The fire crews
were friendly It also has two pay telephones. It is about 13 miles south of
Turkey Spring. We saw no other water in between.
We couldn’t find Dog Flat Spring. There is a big stock pond just south of
FS 512 - Burnt Cabin Cienega. There is water in a creek about 1 mile before
the campgrounds at Willow Creek begin.
It was 27 miles from the second turn on FS 28 to Willow Creek campground.
The water there was from the creek (which comes past a lot of cabins and may
be contaminated.) It was five miles from there to the trailhead for Trail
138, which goes up 3.5 miles to Bead Spring and trail 182. About two miles
was through private lands. There was water all the way, but it would be
better to get it above the cabins.
On trail 182 it is 12 miles from Sandy Point to Mogollon Baldy (10.5 if you
come up on trail 138.) There was water at Bead Spring at 1.6, and at 4.7,
8.6, 9.8 and 11.2. There is fire damage from about a mile before Mogollon
Baldy to the Gila River, off and on. Still, the trail was a good one, well
built and with beautiful views.
On trail 152, it is 9 miles from Mogollon Baldy to the junction with
Trail #151 on the West Fork of the Gila. The only water is at Snow Park, 1
mile past the firetower, and White Creek, 3/4 mile before the junction with
151. Nice camping at both. It is two miles from the junction to the river.
On Trail 151 it is about 16 miles from White Creek to the Cliff Dwellings.
We crossed the river over 60 times in that 16 miles. Beautiful country
It is about 5 miles from the Cliff Dwellings to the village of Gila Hot
Springs, where there is a store with gas, a phone, limited supplies, shower
and laundry, plus campgrounds with hot springs and an inexpensive B&B. The
Visitors Center will accept mail drops, but call first to confirm. They
have no trash pick up anywhere in the Park.
By our route, it was about 116 miles from NM 12 to the village of Gila Hot
Following the Gila River south is probably a better route, but in November
the water is very cold and fairly deep, so we decided to go up on the mesa
instead of following (criss-crossing) the river. I can’t really recommend
our route, as it was pretty obscure and the maps are frequently wrong.
However, we picked up the trail near the Grapevine primitive camping area, 1
1/2 miles south of the village (where the trailhead for the Gila River Trail
starts.) Instead of following the river north for several miles, there is
an unmarked pack trail to the right of the jeep road right after the second
river crossing (about 1/2 mile.) We were warned that the landowners have
closed the trail that used to go through their ranches. The pack trail
climbs to the top of the ridge, then down the back side. It is maintained,
albeit a bit rough, but not marked and forks occasionally. We just kept
heading in the same direction, and were fine. We crossed the E. Fork of the
Gila 3 or 4 times, then headed up a pack trail just past the place where the
river is trying to make an oxbow, before the house. The trail goes through
a gate and begins to climb, parallel to Corral Canyon. It is about a 900’
climb, with switchbacks. There are good views from the top. The trail
disappears in the grass, but can be picked up again after about 100 yds. We
headed NE toward Tom Moore Canyon. At a gate about 1 1/2 miles from the top
of the mesa we bushwhacked east toward Trail #716. (We never did see any
sign of Trail #709.) The map is wrong again here. There was a pack trail
heading south just past the junction that may have actually been #716, about
1 mile west of its map location. There are a lot of north-south canyons and
ridges that don’t show on the BLM map with its 50m contours. We eventually
stumbled on 716 and headed west. Once we found it, we had easy walking
across the mesa. We passed two stock ponds with water. It was about 13 1/2
miles from road to road via trails 708 and 716.
Trail #72 up Black Canyon was very nice. Easy walking and lots of water.
Lots of easy rockhop crossings. The canyon was beautiful.
Trail #73 was a disaster: steep, eroded with lots of deadfall and burned
forest. It would be better to stay on 72 instead of trying to shortcut to
Trail #79 was burned out for about 8 miles, off and on (mostly on.) Great
views but hundreds of downed trees. There is a tall firetower at Reeds Peak.
The side trail to Squeaky Spring was buried under deadfall.
There was water (ice actually) at Willow Spring, Mimbres Lake (ycch!) and
McKnight Cabin (turn right on NM 252 about 1/2 mile. The water is in a
concrete trough in the corral.)
Trail 129 down Gallinas Canyon is steep and eroded but mostly in good shape.
Water was intermittent all the way down. It was 5 1/2 miles from the ridge
to the road.
Trail # 721 is 1/2 mile to the right (west) of Gallinas Canyon, not left
as shown on the maps. It is rough and steep in places (1200’ climb in less
than 2 miles.)
We followed dirt and paved roads from the Mimbres Mountains to Deming. From
the NF boundary to Taylor Mountain it is all posted private property. The
landowners we met were friendly though, and twice we were offered water as
we walked down the road. We followed the highway for about 10 miles to a
junction just past Dwyer when we headed back into the desert. There is
water in the Mimbres River, some stock ponds, and a couple of windmills, but
we were warned that the Mimbres is polluted by mine runoff. Most of the
windmills shown on the map are on private land.
The postmistress in Faywood/Dwyer lets hikers get water from her hose, just
north of the PO. There are no other amenities there. We went down dirt
roads on the west side of Taylor Mountain. There is a good well at the
junction of A011 and A009 (where the two roads around Taylor meet.) The
dirt track headed southeast that shows on the map wasn’t visible on the
ground. It would be a good route though. It would be easy to bushwhack
southeast through the open desert, but it is faster/shorter to just follow
the highway the last 12 miles to town. We saw some windmills off the road,
but didn’t check them out.
The approximate distance from Gila Hot Springs to Deming was 106 miles. I
don’t really recommend the route, but it wasn’t bad, except for the burned
zone in the Black Range. It was fast and easy with no real water or
navigation problems. The highways have wide shoulders. We got in a hurry
because of the cold and the holiday (I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in
town.) Next time we’ll try the Cooke Range or possibly the official route
through the Hachets if we ever get any info out of the BLM.
Deming to the Border:
The fastest way to the border is a 30 mile roadwalk straight down the
highway to Columbus. We chose an alternate – around the east side of the
Florida Mts. and then a swing back across the highway and around the west
side of Tres Hermanas – a 60 mile wander in the desert. It is 12 miles to
Rockhound State Park if you head east then south, 14 miles if you head south
then east. The roads are paved to the park.
Water may be available at the rock shop at the corner of 143 and 141 – nice
owner. There was a stock tank just beyond. There is water and showers at
the state park ($10) and a nice view. There was a well/tank about 100 yds
left of the road just past the park. Shortly after, paved NM 198 turns right
to head toward a new park in Spring Canyon. Don’t follow it. Instead go
straight on the dirt road B0023. The next confusion is at a ranch at
Headquarters Draw. The good road turns back toward the ranch. Go straight.
It curves back toward the mountains a little bit later. There was a windmill
and stock tank by the radio tower. At White Dome there is good water (3
tanks) at the corrals by the broken windmill. Must be an artesian well now.
The next two wells were disabled in ways that were obviously deliberate and
not meant to be fixed.
Just before the highway there was a stock pond fed by a windmill. It was
really nasty when we were there. Get water there or at one of the houses.
The water at the corral by the road was disconnected. The water at the onion
field across the road wasn’t water (fertilizer, we think.) From there it is
12 miles to Columbus by highway. We had intended to circle around the Tres
Hermanas, but decided to hoof it down the highway instead after we killed
the filter trying to filter the fertilizer. The only wells in the Tres
Hermanas are at ranches. The well shown on the map near the airfield about 4
miles north of Columbus is at a house.
Columbus has one motel, 2 B&Bs, 2 restaurants, 1 small grocery, the PO and a
library with Internet. There is nice camping at the State Park.
Palomas has lots of bars and restaurants.
We stopped to talk to Pat Harris at the Egg Nest in Hachita – he’s a very
nice man. He showed us the official route of the CDT on a map. It seems to
have water at regular intervals, but the trail actually starts in a really
remote location about 10 miles east of Antelope Wells and bypasses both
Hachita and Separ. Pat will drive hikers (for a fee) to Antelope Wells, but
wasn’t enthusiastic about the rough roads to the "official" trailhead (which
is 2 miles off the jeep road.) Following the road north from Antelope Wells
would be boring, but we saw several working windmills. (Probably not as bad
as following the highway from Palomas to Deming, which many hikers do.) The
Egg Nest has free camping, food and a shower. He stocks a few Liptons and
such for hikers and bikers. It was listed for sale, but he didn’t seem to
be in a hurry to move. Still, call before you go, if you are heading that
We weren’t able to get any info from the BLM about the official route
through the Big and Little Hatchets. A crew went out a couple of years ago
and marked some of the roads. We just don’t know which roads. Anybody else
get any info from them and/or who is willing to share route/water info for
this route? (JG – are you still on the list?)
IMO, Columbus seems to be a dryer route, but still is a better
starting/ending point. It has much better access and not as many miles of
walking across endless sage flats. Unless you get Pat to drive you, or have
a friend who lives nearby, it would be a very very long hitch down to/from
We stopped to check out Silver City too. It’s very spread out, but has all
the amenities on or near the main drag. There’s supposed to be a nice
hostel in town.
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