Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Powderhorn Ridge Trail-(FT 82)-Aldo Leopold Wilderness
I parked my truck at the gate on the mesa top.The road continues down to the stream bottom.If you want to cut off 1/2 mile(round trip) from your hike, or if you're wanting to camp, driving this last section of road is an option. It's actually in good shape especially compared to horrendous 3 miles( see Forest Road 151 blog) leading up to this point. There is one stream crossing that might be a little dicey if the stream is flowing. Anyway,the forest trail sign pointed down the road, so that's the way I went,but it looked like the old trail goes straight ahead onto the ridge.This stream bottom trail is probably the only option if one is on horseback. The wide, grassy and shady valley of the South Fork Powderhorn Canyon is a more pleasant way to start and finish the hike anyway.
The views to the south of Water,Pretty, and Flower Canyons were awash with the golds and reds of aspens and oaks.Hillsboro Peak and in the distance Cookes Peak were visible as well.Looking to the east and north, the Caballos and Vicks Peak are seen.This is wonderful place to linger awhile, the highest point for many miles around(10,165 feet).The hike is about 10 miles with a little over 2000 feet elevation gain and took me exactly 5 hours to complete. The middle section of the hike has nearly continuous views of the aspen covered slopes of the Black Range Crest and Mcknight Canyon. Except for the last section of the drive to the trailhead, I highly recommend it as Gila classic.Oh and for you wildlife lovers I did see a cute little bear run across the creek on the way back.IMPORTANT NOTE: Parts of this hike are within the Silver Fire burn area. Check with the Forest Service for conditions.