Sunday, October 17, 2010
Horse Mountain Wilderness Study Area
On our third day we decided to check out the BLM's Horse Mountain Wilderness Study Area. The mountain seems to be really three separate peaks of nearly equal elevation, rising very steeply from the plains of San Agustin about 25 miles southwest of Datil. The turnoff is at the remains of the town of Horse Springs. There are many rugged canyons and lesser summits radiating out from the central high points in a roughly circular pattern. The middle mountaintop is named Horse Peak. The others are nameless.The only "trail" in the range is an old east-west running road.The eastern entrance appears to be blocked by private property. We started on the west side where the BLM has a sign. The road follows a dry stream the entire way until it reaches a large ponderosa pine "park" at a saddle.From there it continues east down another dry stream. We walked down a little ways,but decided we didn't want an uphill both ways hike, and returned to the grassy saddle to enjoy distant views of the Sawtooths and close views of the three high peaks. Since this trail is on the north side of the mountain it had much more diverse vegetation than we'd been seeing,including Douglas Fir and Gambel Oak which had already started to change color. I even spied a few aspen high on a cliff face. We saw fresh bear scat,mountain lion scat, a huge bull elk, several deer and flocks of jays.This is a wild and beautiful place and was the highlight hike of this trip.