I continue to try and hike at least some worthy portion of every named and numbered trail in the Sacramento District of the Lincoln National Forest. Most recently we ventured out to the upper trailhead for the Alamo Canyon Trail ( FT 104) for an out and back hike of 4 to 5 miles.
There was a large camping group on the west side of FR 90, so we parked across the road near the old fireplace. It was late morning on what was becoming a warm day. We knew the temperature would be dropping over the next few days, so the hike had that bittersweet feeling of the last of Fall.
The trail winds through some junipers initially and then brought us out into an open meadow area that is unusual for this elevation (7,000 feet) on the east side of the Sacramentos.
It may have been a wet meadow at one time, but now the water from the springs is captured and sent via pipeline to the city of Alamogordo. Nevertheless, there is still enough rainfall and seepage to support a thicket of shrubs and vines, grasses and a few deciduous trees ( both native and invasive). There were cow pies aplenty on either side of the trail, and a few ornery looking cows and steers grazing the clumps of grass that had already been nibbled to the nub, as well. We gave them a wide berth as we had our dogs with us, because it's not exactly a mutual admiration society between the bovine and canine.
At the western end of the meadow the trail begins to really drop down into canyon country where piñons dominate along the trail side. We could now see pipeline and hear the water flowing inside it. As we walked farther east and farther down, the scenery opened up with huge limestone cliffs on the north and a series of very scenic forested ridges on south.
Even though the trail was wide enough for the early twentieth century automobiles that surely once traveled here, it became more and more steep, and of course the steepest sections made for the most slippery walking with loose gravel and rock.The scotties who love to pull downhill didn't help matters either.
Down below us I could see one last pocket of forest with ponderosa pines and a few cottonwoods, right after which the canyon appeared to begin cutting through the desert terrain that would last all the way to its mouth on the outskirts of Alamogordo. The tall trees seemed like a good destination for us.
Right where Gordon Canyon comes in from the south to meet Alamo, there were still a few bigtooth maples that had yet to shed all their leaves, and soon after the stream began to flow, however meagerly, over several small waterfalls in the carbonate bedrock.
Enjoying our lunch on blanket of pine needles had not been expected at the outset, but was most welcome anyway. Afterwards we walked down to where the old road and the trail split where there is a small meadow with a foundation and a fireplace from an old cabin in its center.
We visited the muddy little stream, investigated a nice camping spot and then began the trek back up the hill. We had come down over a thousand feet in a short distance, still the hike back up did not seem overly taxing. We gave the bellowing cattle a wide berth again and were soon back at our vehicle.
I will return to this trail one day, either to do a shuttle hike all the way from top to bottom, or to do a backpacking loop using the Caballero Trail with which it intersects about half-way down.