Monday, November 10, 2014

Upper Dry Canyon Loop Hike( Forest Trails 5574, 5574A,5573)- Lincoln National Forest

       I devised this little loop using trails off of the West Side Road ( FR 90). I started at the second( further south from High Rolls) Upper Dry  Canyon trailhead. This is also the upper trail head for the "A" Trail. In retrospect, it might have been better to start at the first Upper Dry Canyon trail head( north and closer to High Rolls) and made this a lollipop type loop. As it was the hike was  little too short, lasting only 2 1/2 hours.
  I started walking downhill on  a perfect fall day. Shortly, I passed FT 5573( Upper Dry Canyon) my return trail. Shortly thereafter, I came to the intersection of FT 5574( Dry Canyon) and FT 119 ( "A" Trail). I stayed to the right heading  down FT 5574. The upper end of this trail is mostly reddish sandstone rocks. Not big boulders mind you, but just big enough to necessitate watching your footing at all times. Along this stretch, you will see many small rocks with coatings of green malachite, blue azurite and other copper minerals. They have washed down from the many mines and prospects in the area. Most of the mines are well hidden in the pines, junipers and scrub, but I did encounter a small tailings pile further on, and there is  large reclaimed mine right at the beginning of this hike. There also several rough roads that branch off the main trail, that more than likely serviced these mines. t
 The trail continues down on the side of the  canyon among large pinons and stunted oaks. At intersection of 5574 and 5574A, I turned to the north on  FT 5574A which took us down to the stream bed and string of mature ponderosa pines that grown along it. There is an old rusted cattle drinker here and the  map says as spring is short ways upstream, but there was no water flowing where the trail crosses the creek.
 Now on FT 5574A we began climb back uphill. This section of the trail is pretty rough as well. I imagine only the most skilled of ATVers, motorcyclists and mountain bikers would want to mess with it. As it is it doesn't look like it gets much vehicle use, at least not anymore. I investigated a side road and then picnicked near where the trail crosses a small side drainage. Continuing uphill, I noticed the rocks in this section were mudstone that looked very much like the rocks that contain the Permian trackways over in the Robledo Mountains near Las Cruces., but didn't noticed any fossils.  I turned right( south) onto 5573 which  gave me an almost level  return leg as the wide trail headed nearly straight back to  where I  began. I noticed some huge juniper stumps amongst the younger trees. Maybe they were cut to provide fuel for the mining operations many years ago.

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