Monday, July 20, 2015

Pines North Trail(FT 5688)- Lincoln National Forest

We did a nice little hike on Sunday( 7/19/15), combining the Pines North Trail with the Osha Trail( FT 10) to make a lollipop loop. At first I just wanted to hike out of the Pines Campground( using FT 568 B) just north of Cloudcroft and then go up and back on the Pines North trail. However, we found out there is no trailhead parking at the campground. We then drove up NM 244 a bit got on FR 568. I initially passed  FR 206C, which is  where the upper trail head is located It's the first road on the left( west  that is,206C goes downhill while 568 stays up)  and had to backtrack a bit. We parked at a recently abused dispersed  campsite littered with close to hundred beer cans and other trash, much of it sitting on some blackened logs- that looked as if they hadn't provided much of  a campfire( there was almost no ash). We cleaned up the area a bit and then walked a short ways downhill to the the beginning of the Pines North trail. There was family camped here cleaning  and packing up. They seemed like a nice group and I felt bad if they had to endure the was a surely a night of stupidity just up the hill from them. We said " good morning" and began our walk.
 It's a nice little jaunt first up hill, then intersecting an old railroad grade, and then down a  little meadow that  brought us to the crossover to the Osha Trail.  It's mostly a second growth pine and fir forest  along the intermittently rocky trail, although there are few big diameter great grandaddy trees here and there.We walked down hill a bit on the Osha Trail and then went off trail  in a lovely little glade of oaks and aspens and had our picnic. We went round the circuit of the Osha Trail, but bypassed the last little leg back down to the meadow and the crossover, and instead stayed on the  old road until we reached FT 568B which took us  back to the Pines North Trail.
It was a warm day, even at nearly 9000 feet. The thunder and  few dark clouds came and went over the 3 hours that we hiked, but we never felt a drop of rain. Although I had been on the Osha Trail before, I hadn't noticed all the big tooth maples that grow there, which would make it another prime destination to see fall color in the Sacramentos.This was nice way to extend the too short Osha loop. We saw a few couples on the Osha Section, but no one at all on Pines North.

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