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Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area

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Offline dkerr24

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I think several folks here have posted about visiting the Ruidoso area, and I wanted to see if any of you could recommend any multi-day backpacking trip ideas in the Ruidoso, NM area?

Climbing Sierra Blanca peak is on my agenda, but are there other things that should be on my 'must see' list while hiking there?  I don't mind doing some scrambling or off-trail stuff, just nothing involving any technical climbing.  

I considered heading back up to the Santa Fe area, but decided against that as I am looking to visit someplace I haven't seen before.  Grand Canyon isn't in the cards this year, trying to cut vacation trip costs.

I'll be heading out there in the next few weeks, and spend 5 or 6 nights.  Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Darin
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 01:57:24 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2009, 02:49:51 PM »
Ruidoso is a nice place, but its elevations tend to be not as great as other ranges. By picking up a copy of the White Mountain Wilderness map you can put together a number of loops by incorporating some road walking.

One place you may wish to consider if you haven't been before is the area around Red River, NM. It would be a little closer mileage wise and you could hit multiple above treeline peaks by putting together a trip linking the Wheeler Peak Wilderness to the Columbine-Hondo WSA immediately to its north. The Latir Peaks Wilderness lie just a few miles north of the Columbine-Hondo and include multiple 12,000 ft. plus peaks and an alpine lake and is not often visited. Finally, the Valle Vidal just to the northwest of Red River is one of the southwests most spectacular areas of wildlife habitat, with elk, mule deer, turkey and my last two trips including bear. All of these areas are in the Carson National Forest and can be found on the Forest Service's Valle Vidal map and Wheeler Peak Wilderness map (covers Wh. Pk., Columbine-Hondo and Latir Peaks).

Good luck on your trip.

-Danny

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2009, 07:15:23 PM »
Good ideas, Danny.  I've driven through Red River, but never stopped beyond visiting a few shops in the town itself.  

The mileage from OKC to Red River is bit less, as you mentioned.  A loop hike allowing me to bag several peaks in the same trip does sound challenging and worthwhile.  I'll check into some of the destinations you mentioned.  

A side trip to visit Capulin Volcano Monument would be another bonus.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 07:27:14 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2009, 11:04:23 PM »
Darin,

I got excited thinking about what I would do if I had that many nights without a passle of kids to keep up with and took the liberty to trace out a few routes I've wanted to try.

I would start by heading through the Valle Vidal by heading into Cimmaron and taking the gravel road through Cerrososo Canyon to McCrystal CG. This campground sits at about 8,000 ft and is in a ponderosa forest. It has nice sites, but no water. As such it really doesn't get used much and I have never seen more than a few other folks camped there. The next day I would walk up to see the ruins of the McCrystal Place (trail starts right outside the CG). For a few pictures of this area see http://griffisfamilyoutdoors.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html. It is flat and easy and would give you a chance to stretch your legs. I would then take the graveled forest road through the Valle up over the Rock Wall and stop at the Shuree Ponds to listen to the aspen and see if the trout are biting. From tehre I would head down Commanche Creek, stopping occasionally to glass the wide open meadows for elk, deer, etc. I would then drive south to Questa and turn east on Hwy 38 to Red River. I would spend the next night at Columbine Canyon CG.

The next morning (after two nights around 8,000 ft. for acclimation) I would head up Columbine Canyon with gear for two nights. I have done parts, but not all of the attached route, so some of it is conjecture on my part. I can tell you that I have stayed at a nice campsite that I have marked in Columbine Canyon on several occasions.



After completing this route I would then head to the trailhead for Middle Fork Lake and if my legs and ambition proved adequate I would give this route an attempt.



I have done all of this route except the bushwack down to Middle Fork Lake. There is a nice campsite on the north side of Middle Fork Lake (see http://griffisfamilyoutdoors.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html).

These are just some thoughts I've got on the area. All daily mileages are pretty short to take time to enjoy the area. I hope you enjoy your trip. It's a beautiful place. You have a decent chance of solitude in the Columbine-Hondo, but probably not in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness.

-Danny

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2009, 11:42:49 PM »
Wow, that gives me much more to work with!  I'm going to check this out on my Garmin Mapsource.  Thanks for sharing this information with me.

Darin


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Offline Al

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2009, 12:59:54 AM »
Hope someday I will be able to do a summer vacation in that area.  MD's advice would make all the difference.  I hope he doesn't leave this board when he moves to the great north, pretty please with sugar on it.

Al

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Offline chirho412

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2009, 08:03:27 PM »
I just returned from making that circle over Wheeler Peak. You don't have to bushwhack to get to Middlefork Lake. You follow the trail from Horseshoe Lake up and over Wheeler (the trail actually goes past Wheeler and you have to double back a bit), then continue over Mt. Walter and down the other side. Once you are back in the trees, you will come to water, and there will be two trails. You want the one to the right, which is smaller, but has orange tape blazing the path back to Middlefork. The locals have let the fallen logs stay as a way to keep motorized vehicles out of there.

I took a group, and we parked the first day at the Middlefork Parking Lot and hiked to Lost Lake, about 5.5 miles. The trail diverges from the road at the water crossing, where it is a little over a mile to continue to Middlefork, or it is another 4.5 to Lost Lake. The next day, we hiked to Horseshoe and spent the night there (which is a tad scary if there are thunderstorms) and the 3rd day we went up and over Wheeler back to Middlefork, which left us an easy hour hike back to the parking lot. It is a great trip.

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Looking for ideas for backpacking trips in Ruidoso, NM area
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2009, 09:32:56 PM »
Thanks for the additional info... and welcome to Big Bend Chat!

 


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