Tuesday, May 13, 2014
West Side Road (FR 90) - Lincoln National Forest
I've never driven much or very far on the West Side Road( FR 90) out of High Rolls. A couple of trips for Christmas Trees, another time looking for an old mine, were the few excursions I made and they never took me any farther than the now well signed Courtney Mine Trailhead. A couple of weekends ago I decided to remedy that situation. I got a late start. I had been thinking about either the Gobbler's Knob trail or the Heart Attack trail for a hike. But as I got to driving I just began enjoying exploring this new territory( for me). One nice thing this area has going for it is all the new and very visible signage which takes the guessing game of where exactly one is( so prevalent in many National Forests) out of play. I clicked off all the places I had been studying on the map the night before: the Courtney Mine Trail, the Dry Canyon Trail, Alamo Peak Trail,Heart Attack Trail, San Andres Trail, Road Canyon Trail as I drove on. I didn't make it to the Gobbler's Knob Trail, which I later learned was only a short ways beyond where I turned around. That will have to wait for a cooler day. I ended up backtracking to the San Andres Trail(upper) to start my hike, but in the process I became aware of one of the most scenic backcountry drives in New Mexico and a whole new area for hiking and exploration opened up for me. This drive, on an all weather dirt road, is uniquely positioned being cut along the middle of the mountain slope at about 7,500 feet where there is slight pause in the unrelenting gradient.One can view down into the undulating foothills and canyons carved into the layers of limestone, or up to the deeply forested, rounded peaks of the Southern Sacramento's highest elevations. Either way it's stunning. I'm already planning return trips for the Fall and maybe the Winter.Note:When dry the road is passable for most vehicles,but high clearance is recommended. Also, I cannot vouch for the last few miles of the road to Timberon as I did not drive them, but this could make a great loop with a return trip entirely on well maintained, paved roads.