A blog about exploring the natural areas of New Mexico focusing on but not limited to Dona Ana, Luna, Otero, Sierra, Grant, Lincoln,Socorro and Catron counties.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Pennsylvania Canyon- Lincoln National Forest
On Forest Trail 51
Our camp in Pennsylvania Canyon, June,1999
After the less than auspicious start to that camping trip many years ago( see Springtime Campground blog) we drove over to Pennsylvania Canyon in the Lincoln National Forest. Pennsylvania Canyon is a tributary of Nogal Canyon( not to be confused with Philadelphia Canyon- some early pioneers must have been from the Keystone State- which is tributary of nearby Bonito Creek). After passing through Carrizozo we ended up taking NM 37 through the small village of Nogal, then on to FR 400 for two or so miles. There wasn't then, but now there shoud be a sign saying " Pennsylvania Canyon." Head west on the primitive FR 5628 to reach the camping area right on the edge of the White Mountain Wilderness. Even though this area was at about the same elevation as Springtime Campground in the San Mateos- it was much cooler. It's tucked away in a small canyon surrounded by lush forested ridges and didn't have long exposure to either afternoon or morning sun. I don't think the small stream in the canyon was running,but nearby Nogal Canyon was. We were able to spread out a bit here. There weren't any other campers real close by, although there was a vacation house(at the time vacant) just down the the road. There were many mice and chipmunks about which made our dogs crazy and the kids nervous. We tried hiking on FT 51 which started right out of the camping area, but our dogs, crazed with hunting fever( for the abundant rodents) soon exhausted themselves. One day we drove up to the ridgeline on the switchbacking FR 400, did a little hiking on the Crest Trail(FT 25), enjoyed the tremendous views, and then continued down the many twists and turns on the other side. For some reason this road changes its name from FR 400 to FR 108, it is also called the Tanbark Road,because on the Bonito side it begins in Tanbark Canyon. I was fascinated by all the old mines with many of their headframes still intact, and abundant rusting machinery lying everywhere. One night, a kid road his dirt bike up and down the road near our campsite for a long time. We couldn't really see him, but we sure could hear him. The Lincoln is not known for solitude.We checked out this area again a few years ago while camping on Bonito Creek. It was still the pretty much the same, except the road into Pennsylvania Canyon was worse, and more people were using it for dispersed camping. It still could be an okay place to camp mid week, or perhaps on a weekend, just not during one of the peak usage times.