Sunday, August 5, 2012

Coffee Pot Trail( FT 69) - Cibola National Forest

I'd read about this hike in the old  50 Hikes in New Mexico by Harry Evans. When that book was written it was possible to drive up the road( off of FR 478)  a mile or so to the trail head,but we parked much sooner, and most vehicles will need to as well.This lower end of the hike is in a beautiful little valley where we listened to an almost continuous chorus of elk calls as we hiked on a damp fall morning. There was some water in the stream that day, but don't count on it.The trail then abruptly took us up several hundred feet in a few switch backs, from that point on it stays up high on the hill tops and canyon sides as it makes it way to West Blue Mountain- the high point of the San Mateo Range.There have been many fires in here over the years, so much of this section of the hike is in  open pine forest  with a  brushy undergrowth of gambel oak. Along the way there were good views looking back toward Mount Withington and the northern end of the range. We lunched among some boulders and a Clark's Nutcracker, not known for their shyness, begged from us the entire time. High on the side of a ridge with views of the low growing aspens on the flanks of West Blue Mountain before us,but with the peak( and the trail's end) still almost 2 miles away, we turned around. I would like to return  one day and make it to the peak, but this was beautiful walk on a beautiful day. Note: Forest Road 478( West Red Canyon) does not appear to be maintained a short distance past the Red John Box. There are many steep stream crossings where a less than high clearance vehicle could easily bottom out. There are also washouts where the road takes improvised detours, so that last  few miles before it dead ends at Tool Box Spring take on the aspect of a "use" route rather than an official forest road.

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