Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tonuco Peak

The Tonuco Peak uplift area is one of the best places for  desert hiking here in southern New Mexico. It has petroglyphs, interesting geology, cool rocks(various colors of quartz crystals, barite, fluorite, obsidian), old mines, and great views of the Rio Grande Valley from the peak. I have hiked here many times and there is always something new to discover;like a small needle eye arch in a branch canyon, or encounter, like the time I took a " short cut ' down through the cliffs that tower over the  large sandy arroyo on the north side and accidentally roused a couple of great horned owls, whose appearance so startled me that I nearly tumbled down the rocky ravine I was so carefully negotiating.Be careful around the mines if you go. Also, there's a giant mystery hole on top of the flat peak- don't fall in it. There is no waste rock near it, so if it's a mine shaft, it must be connected to a tunnel further down on the side of the mountain.The loop hike I usually make is a moderate 7 miles, and uses the big sandy arroyo,Pictograph Canyon, and the road coming from the east to the peak, but there are several other old mine roads that I've used for exploring. Getting down into some of the small arroyos has been fun too.The final climb to the peak is steep,but fairly short. It's amazing the remote feeling you get in the hidden Pictograph Canyon on this hike, even though you're very close to I-25 on one side and the farms along the river on the other. Good directions can be found in Greg Magee's Dayhikes and Nature Walks in the Las Cruces/El Paso Area. Caution: there is deep sand on some vehicle routes, and some roads can turn from decent to dangerous without much warning, and the "road" to the peak isn't really a road at all, so unless you have a jeep or some other vehicle suited to these conditions it's best to do your adventuring on foot.


Mauren Navarro said...

I just did this hiking, amazing interesting place..

devon said...

So glad you enjoyed it!