Philmont Trek Route #1

by Bill Griffin <> Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 13:18:23 -0500

Vaca: You will bus through the town of Cimarron to a bus drop. It is a short but fairly steep hike up to Vaca, on a shelf on the south side of the Cimarron River. Don't take water from the river even if you purify it!

Deer Lake Mesa: Hike further up onto the next shelf to Harlan. Good program and you have time. Out of Harlan take the trail up onto Deer Lake Mesa. At the top of the mesa a wooded and fairly easy trail goes to Deer Lake Mesa camp. About a mile or two before the camp there is a weak spring below the trail on your right. Hike quietly and you may hear it gurgle. It is the best water you will see for awhile. Deer Lake Mesa camp has a nasty watering hole that needs lost of care. I would take water from Harlan and try to find the spring (it is on the map).

Cimarroncito: Take the trail south along the top of Deer Lake Mesa. You will pass near (but not go into) Devil's Washbasin, a usually dry water hole. Then you will drop down off of the south side of Deer Lake Mesa. The trail will drop down to Ute Gulch Commissary on the other side. Be careful not to follow the main trail down to the road. Just after dropping down from the crest of Deer Lake Mesa the commissary trail (newer) heads off to the left. Get food and water then go down the road a couple of miles. Watch for a trail heading off the road to your RIGHT. This goes through Grouse Canyon and enters the head of Cimarroncito Meadow. Go down the meadow to the staff cabin.

Cimarroncito layover: This is a day of rest (if you want one). You can take the program and/or a side hike. A good side hike (half day) is to head down the meadow trail, past the Hunting Lodge, and just before the trail breaks out onto the road a side trail heads up Cathedral Rock. From the top (good view) continue to Window Rock (better view) then down Hidden Valley to Aspen Springs. From the campsite, take the trail around the ridge back to Cimarroncito Meadow.

Clarks Fork: Go down the meadow (the way you would have gone to Cathedral Rock and continue across the road. The trail on the other side goes to Clarks Fork--an easy hike.

Black Mountain: There are a couple of ways to get to Black Mountain Camp. Hard, harder and hardest. One choice is to go back to the vicinity of the Hunting Lodge and take the trail towards Cyphers Mine. As the trail leaves the creek and doubles back to go around the ridge to Cyphers, continue to Lambert's Mine. From there, take the trail up Comanche Pass, over the top and down to Black Mountain Camp. The only difficult portion is the trail up and over the pass, but it isn't too bad. The hike from the Hunting Lodge to Lamberts is pretty. Besides, you could go around the ridge from Lamberts and visit Cyphers, if you are fast and get an early start. The harder way to Black Mountain Camp is to hike over Shaefers Pass from Clarks Fork. Check the spring in the SW corner of the pass meadow, up the grassy slope, to see if you can replenish your canteens. Then head down the south side to the Upper Fork of the Urraca Creek. When you get down to the creek (16 switchbacks) follow it upstream to Black Mountain Camp. This is a pretty hike. Watch for the old lava wall on the other side of the creek. The hardest way is to climb Shaefers Pass. From the pass meadow a rough trail (some of it used to be marked by tree blazes) over the top of Black Mountain itself then a REALLY STEEP drop down the west side of the mountain to Black Mt. Camp.

Buck Creek: From Black Mt. Camp, take the trail over the ridge to Bonita Meadow. This is a good trail. You will enter the meadow above Beaubien Camp. Cross the top of the meadow and take the trail (not the road) down to Phillips Junction Commissary. After picking up food, continue down the road that follows Rayado Creek towards Fish Camp. About half way down, cross the stream and take the side road up Buck Creek. This is a good camp along the creek bank.

Apache Springs: From Buck Creek camp a trail crosses over the ridge and drops into Bear Canyon Camp. From the meadow below the camp a trail crosses to the west, across an earthen dam for a watering pond and eventually drops into Apache Springs Meadow. Be careful. There are old logging roads around here and it is very easy to get disoriented. I suggest using a southern sector map instead of the one that covers the whole ranch. It is a better scale and has better details. While at Apache you can climb the ridge behind the staff cabin and from there have a wonderful view of the mountains to the west and valley floor stretching below. This is a very short hike.

Fish Camp: Go down the meadow and take the trail that drops down off of the shelf to Agua Fria Creek. Follow the creek (many creek crossings) to Fish Camp. A beautiful camp with good sites and excellent fishing.

Abreu: From Fish camp, take the trail on the south bank, past the cabins. It is an easy and pretty trail that follows the contour east. The Rayado River drops away below you to the left. Be careful getting off the trail as it is steep and treacherous. Look for the hole in the rock the trail passes through. Just before Abreu the trail drops down to the river, reaching it at Old Abreu Camp. Pass through and continue to Abreu. Your campsites are on the other side.

Base Camp: When you leave in the morning you have about a 2 mile hike. Take the trail through the camp on the south side of the river. It follows the river to Zastrow Camp--site of Wood Badge Training. At Zastrow, cross the river to the north side and take the trail up onto the flat above the river. Go to the road and wait for your scheduled bus. You can easily meet the first scheduled bus in the morning, getting to base camp well before lunch.

Good luck and have a good trek,

Bill Griffin

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