Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Taylor,Schofield Canyon Loop( FT 5007,5007A,5007C,5007D) - Lincoln National Forest

This loop was my intended hike 11 months ago, when a lost set of key along the trail turned my day into an ordeal that I related in the blog entry " The Tale of the Schofield Canyon Trail."
This past  Sunday was similarly lovely day as the one in June, if a bit cooler, thankfully.
    We started out going up Schofield Canyon( FT 5007A). The steady climb over the first 3/4 mile took the chill off of us quickly. Most trees were leafed out with exception of the oaks. The creek almost entirely dry, but there was one mud puddle recently visited by elk. At the second intersection we headed east on FT 5007 D.
The next intersection is a bit confusing. Trail 5007C comes at you from two directions. Take the left branch that heads east. Taking the right will send on a winding path downhill and back to Schofield Canyon. When FT5007C drops down into a  head of stream valley, Forest Trail 5007( Taylor Canyon trail) is on your right, however, it is not marked which is highly unusual,  given the great links that have been gone to sign almost every trail in the Lincoln over the last decade or so. We walked by it, and then realized our mistake when the trail  we were on topped out on the ridge with no option for  FT 5007. We headed back down to what we now knew was  Taylor Canyon and the trail, which had dead, bloated,fly infested cow on it,that we gave a wide berth.

   Rather than stay with the trail( FT 5007) as  it  went up on the hillside to the left, we stayed in Taylor Canyon itself, which has a nice livestock/wildlife trail to follow through a narrow,mostly forested little valley. A short ways  down in a clearing,there was a  live spring emerging from the western hillside giving birth to a sweet little stream, which made me glad we had come this way instead of the trail that would have taken us much farther to the east and had us walking back on the frequently busy Upper Rio Peñasco Road.

  Seamus took  out up the hillside through this stretch after what we don't know,but returned in a few minutes. We saw the "road" that we  would use for our return trip on our right, but weren't sure if it was the one we wanted. Shortly afterward, we could see the paved road below us, and knew we had to backtrack to that very same road, which is really just a grass bottomed corridor through the forest.
Even though it appears on the forest map, it is no longer used by vehicles of any kind and was a very pretty bit of easy walking to finish up the 4- 5 mile loop. Despite the fact that these trails are just up the road from the very popular Bluff Springs area, we only encountered a couple of groups of turkey hunters moseying along very quietly on their ATVs.
NOTE: right above  the Upper Rio Peñasco Road, Taylor Canyon has a rugged little cascade that flows over limestone bedrock. The stream had dried up before reaching it when we visited( the spring is small and is also pumped and piped for livestock use) but I'm sure it does flow earlier in the Spring and in late Summer.