Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring Canyon State Park-Florida Mountains

Spring Canyon State Park is a day use area in the Florida Mountains a couple miles south of Rockhound State Park. It has picnic tables and shelters.There is a day use fee.It may have once had camping and it would be nice if it could once again, offering an alternative to Rockhound SP for smaller trailers,pop-ups and tent campers.It looks as if the area has been washed out by floods in the past: chunks of old black top and concrete used to be seen in the arroyos that run through the picnic area. In steep mountains such as these, this can still be a problem even in driest part of the state.Perhaps that's why there's been a minimum of investment here.
There are two "trails" that leave from the state park onto BLM land. One is in Lover's Leap Canyon. The other is in Spring Canyon.The one in Lover's Leap Canyon, the better of the two, starts out past the last of the picnic spots. We've hiked it a couple of times up to a saddle that overlooks to the other side of the Floridas and beyond to the Cedar Mountain Range.Total distance is about 1.5 miles. Elevation gain is 600 to 800 feet depending on where in the picnic area your hike commences. It is very steep and slippery the last 1/4 mile or so.We've lost the path both times we've walked here. Just keep going till you find it again. It stays close to the stream bed on one side or the other. There is enough moisture here for pinons, scrub oak and the occasional ash tree, but the real draw here is the many formations in the friable volcanic rock on display on the north side of the trail.
    Lover's Leap Canyon is to your right(southwest) as you enter, Spring Canyon is straight ahead(south).Since it runs almost straight north, it retains even more moisture. There are some very large pinons along the way and the stream bottom is very dense with vegetation, which eventually blocked our progress after only a mile or of steep hiking.This trail is harder to follow with very rocky sections along the steep sides of the canyon.I looked and looked for some kind of continuation along those grassy hillsides but saw nothing.It could be there. I don't know. I do know that the bushwacking in the stream bottom was not at all practical or enjoyable,so we turned around.This experience with lightly used use trails repeats itself in other areas of the Floridas. It strikes me as strange that a very scenic mountain range with good sized town nearby has no official hiking trails. These two,the one in Windmill Canyon,plus a few old mine and ranch roads will have to suffice for the present.


Ruth said...

Hi Devon - I'm not a hiker and have not been very far in the Floridas, but I am from Deming and have friends who are hikers, photographers and archeologists. It may seem strange that there are no posted hiking trails in the Floridas. There are "secret" sites (caves, petroglyphs - probably Apache) that the locals want to KEEP secret because of the danger of graffiti, etc. should someone not respect these treasures. I have one friend who grew up in Deming (he's around 50) and he did tell me there's a well-worn trail that actually goes over the biggest peak that he hiked as a high school senior -- it was the thing to do then. I don't know if that trail is still there or if it is still a tradition for high school kids to hike over the mountain. Should you be interested in some of the "secret" areas, I think I can put you in touch with someone who can tell you how to get to them.

devon said...

I'm always interested in hikes in the Floridas.
I have a pretty good idea where some of the caves are.
This winter I want to hike up the Mahoney Park Road on the west side or check out Bradley,Lobo or
Victorio Canyons on the east. Gym Peak looks interesting as well. A couple of years ago I tried to go up to Baldy Peak from the Three Little Hills area, but it was too steep and too rugged and would have taken too long without some kind of trail. I'd love to know of special areas and would be careful to leave out explicit directions if that is what is wanted.

Ruth said...

I sent the link to your "Spring Canyon State Park" blog to one of my hiking friends and hopefully he will post something for you soon.

If you don't see something within a reasonable time (his name is Dave), please email me directly ( and I'll put you in touch with someone else who is a local hiker. :)

DaveSheprd said...

Dave here. I now live in California and really miss the Floridas. There are trails all over the Floridas if you know how to look. I agree that the Spring Canyon trail needs improvements--because of poor marking and maintenance there is now a network of bootleg trails that are a real mess. I offered to fix-up and mark real trail but the ranger didn't buy it.
Let me tell you about the trails out here. They tend to be well used, often deep hard grooves in the land and there are trail signs. They are walked by lots of people many of whom shouldn't be there. They exercise walk never seeing the birds or smelling the flowers. They are dependent on the trail signs which are not always clear or accurate and they get lost regularly. They have no idea where they are because they are not paying attention to their surrounds and they fear getting off the trail. Why encourage such use beyond the areas that are heavily used already.
With good trail sense and a bit of preparation most of the Floridas are open to you. Will you ever try a route that doesn't work? Yep, but so what.