Monday, April 22, 2013

Bridal Veil Falls Trail (FT129)-Lincoln National Forest

I saw some photos of these falls on my friend  Doug Murphy's New Mexico Waterfalls website and I was intrigued. I also saw that the Forest Service had finished their work on the trail, so on Sunday I thought we'd give a go. The trail head is on the paved 162 C probably less than 2 miles from the turnoff on NM 82( the road is called Cherry Blossom initially).  We turned right on the first stop sign , passed the Cherry Festival grounds on the left and continued on out of the village. There is room for   2 cars to park off the road at the Grandview Trail trail head.
      Bridal Veil Falls trail is directly across the street.  As we began walking we could still see  houses of High Rolls on the hills above us from some parts of the trail,so you're not exactly in the wilderness. The trail is almost entirely on the old railroad grade so it is wide, smooth and  pitched at a moderate enough grade for the railroad engines of a  100 years ago, so it's easy walking. It's also without any significant shade. The vegetation is a mix of pinon juniper  chaparral along with desert species such as creosote and all-thorn. Most of the area looks beat down not just by the  disturbance caused to the land initially by the  railroad,but also from years of over grazing and recent persistent drought. In fact if it  weren't for the waterfall at the end, I would've wondered why we were on this trail in the first place, given that there are many more scenic places to stretch your legs in the Lincoln. 
      In the places where the absence of the trestle leaves the trail hanging high above a gully,  bypass routes have  been built to take you down to the arroyo or creek crossing. The first of these even has bridge over the perennial south fork of Salado Creek.  Interpretive  signs along the way had us imagining what it would have been like to actually see  a train chugging up through these hills and contemplating the considerable effort in raw labor and engineering imagination needed to make this a reality back in 1899.
         Close to the falls there are the ruins of an old homestead. It must have been an lovely place to live. There were apricot, apple and plum trees that were already leafed out and sporting tiny green fruits. We ate our lunch down below the deck  of the main falls while a couple with young children enjoyed themselves. After they left, we took our turn. Our timing was perfect, just as we were done photographing and enjoying this lovely place,  a troop of  less than quiet Cub Scouts descended upon the scene.This trail is more than likely very popular  being accessible, containing the attraction of a permanent waterfall and easy walking to boot. We just happened to get lucky for being there on a weekend.If you're really allergic to crowds, you might want to try a weekday.

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