|Cliffs above the North Fork Mimbres|
|View south to Hillsboro Peak|
|Black Range Crest|
|Reeds Peak Lookout|
|Reeds Peak Cabin|
The next day we did one of the best hikes in the Black Range: the North Fork of the Mimbres to Reeds Peak. This is the real backcountry of the Aldo Leopold. It is not accessible as a day hike,unless your idea of day hike runs about 24 miles out and back. Even as it was, starting from well in on the main Mimbres, we probably hiked close to 12 miles round trip. I fished a little as we went and caught a few small trout in the main stem and on the North Fork. Initially the North Fork's canyon is very narrow and boxed in. The trail(FT 77) even follows a ledge in the cliff sides at one point. Later, We had to hike a steep hill to circumvent a very narrow, rocky section that would've had us walking in the water. Descending the other side, we entered a relatively wide open valley with tall grass and huge douglas firs and ponderosa pines, where the tiny stream gently meandered.Further back there was a marshy area with several springs, where we ate and rested. Further back still, the trail left the stream and we began the truck up to Reeds Peak.
Shortly after passing a muddy spring trickling down the hillside and across the trail, we reached the crest of the Black Range with views opening up to the east. There may be downfall in this frequently burned area to the south of peak. The trail gets a bit thick with low growing brush with the last few switchbacks to the peak. On top there is the old lookout tower and cabin. There is also a cistern where we filtered water for our bottles. The cabin didn't look real inviting,unless you're a mouse lover,but it would probably seem very cozy if you needed to get out of the wind,rain or cold. The lookout tower's steps looked a little rickety and the last flight beneath the cabin is missing completely,so we didn't climb up. I don't believe this one has been manned in many years. When we got back to camp, we were thoroughly exhausted but happy to have left our prints, however briefly, on this remote canyon and peak of the Gila.IMPORTANT NOTE: This hike is within the Silver Fire burn area.