Friday, October 16, 2015
Pumphouse Ridge Trails 1 and 2( FT 5661C and FT 5661D)- Lincoln National Forest
Forest Road 5661 is a well maintained, albeit, narrow gravel road that begins off of Forest Road 24B just southeast of the village of Cloudcroft. It curves, bends and meanders, first on the south and then on the north side of the high, windswept Pumphouse Ridge.Viewscapes are limited initially but as we drove farther east they became more expansive. Along the way are many dispersed camping areas,old roads both official and unofficial, and the five Pumphouse Ridge trails.
Last year we hiked the longest of these, Pumphouse Ridge Trail 3( FT 5661F). Before I headed back to Las Cruces on Sunday, Seamus, Nessie and I hiked Pumphouse Ridge Trails 1 and 2(FT 5661C and 5561D). Pumphouse # 1 is about a mile long. It's an easy walk along a grass covered former timber road. It was cool and windy as we started out,but warmed up considerably as the morning progressed. Views are limited along this trail, and shortly after it makes a hairpin turn and heads downhill it terminates. We continued on through the brush to the top of a small forested hill.This one took a little less than an hour all total.
A short ways down the road is Pumphouse Ridge Trail 2( 5661D) another old timber road now green with grass and low growing weeds. This one winds along the western edge of the steep-sided Jones Canyon directly across from the Pumphouse Ridge # 3. Around a curve we saw some large cows lolling comfortably where the trail dead ended. We turned back.We were over and done with this one in less than a half hour.
These were pleasant hikes on a cool, breezy October morning, but I could easily see how at other times of the year and other times of day they might not seem so great, given their very open nature.
There are two more signed trails along the ridge, which we passed as we headed to where the road ends( it does just end high on the ridge,although there some primitive connecting roads that come in from the north before this happens). Both are short like the ones we just hiked.
All the Pumphouse Ridge trails are gated and are closed to ATV use, but I noticed there must be a few special people who don't feel they are subject to the some rules and regulations as you and I have driven around the gates anyway. I suppose, perhaps, that they were unaware. Perhaps not.