I believe this is our fourth hike on the Rim Trail. We've now covered all but a short segment between Karr Canyon Rd. and Alamo Peak Rd. of the fourteen miles from Slide Group Campground to Atkinson Field. It was 39 degrees, windy and cloudy at about 11:40 when we started off,but conditions improved as the day went on, although I never took my coat off. At 3:40 when we ended our hike, the temperature was 39 degrees.
There was recent snow on the ground here and there and the shady parts of the trail were decidedly damp. This trail weaves in and out of the heads of several canyons gradually ascending and descending as it goes. Some sections provide more or less flat walking that closely parallels NM 6563, the Sunspot Highway. One of the better hikes we've done out here started out at Atkinson Field and used Trails 111 and 109 to get to Alamo Peak.We then used the road and the Rim Trail to complete the loop. Be forewarned- although the Rim Trail is closed to ATV use,most of other trails in the area are open to 4 wheelers and by the looks of it they get a lot of traffic. Most of it is on weekends during the warmer months,but you never know.The Rim Trail is open to bicycles and motorcycles and the one person we encountered was a bicyclist.Also, be prepared for quite a bit of temperature gradient on these trails.The difference between the shady hollows and the sun-baked south exposed hillsides can be as much as twenty degrees.The best time to hike this trail is October when fall colors are peaking: there are bigtooth maples and extensive stands of oak and aspen. We missed it by a couple of weeks, but I'm keeping it in mind for next year.When we reached FR 634 we decided to follow the road instead of the trail.This is one of the many roads in the area that wind around the hills and dead-end at a flat topped peak.We didn't make it to the end, but we did see a some nice camping spots for a warmer time of year.We saw three bull elk crashing across the trail in front of us, listened to ravens in the trees, and admired the truly huge Douglas-firs that grow along the stream courses. The views to valleys reminded me that we were in some true mountains, despite their ease of accessibility.All in all,it was a nice, if not spectacular, seven mile hike.