Philmont Trek Route #6

by Bill Griffin <> Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 09:42:04 -0500

Old Abreu: Interesting bus drive down the ranch road towards Rayado. Good view of Tooth on right. As get up onto the flat from the camping headquarters, look for the erosion and ruts of the original Santa Fe trail on the left. Also look for rock cairns on the small peaks to your left as you drive south. The bus will leave the road just shy of Rayado and head up the valley to the bus turnaround. Here you will begin your hike. The trail drops down into the gully and the Rayado River to your south. At the bottom is Zastrow Camp, site of Wood Badge training at Philmont. Cross the river and take the trail immediately on the other side. It follows the river upstream on the other side. You will pass through Rayado River camp then Abreu camp on the other side of a meadow with a shower house in it. Then cross the river to Abreu Camp. Take the road past the staff cabin, continuing upstream. It is a short hike to Old Abreu Camp. There are about 4 sites. Most are fair. The last site upstream has a masonry foundation that is a vestige of when this camp had buildings. Down the bank towards the river are shale beds with fossils in them. Look but don't take. The river is across the river bed. In the evening you can walk back down to Abreu to sample the root beer cantina and watch the evening burro races.

Crags: The trail climbs from Old Abreu up onto the rimrock. The top of this cliff is the southern boundary of Philmont. The UUbar ranch is up there. After a good climb you will be on a fairly level trail that traverses along the contour line short of the top, all the way to Fish Camp. A side trail drops back down to the River and Crags Camp. This is a seldom used camp and you probably will be there alone or with one other crew. It is a good camp location but you have to hike down and will have to hike back up tomorrow.

Lost Cabin: Back at the rimrock trail, continue west, upstream. This is a pretty hike and quite easy when you get onto the contour trail itself. Watch your footing as it is a long drop down to your right. Soon the river will climb up to nearly your level and you will arrive at Fish Camp. This is a beautiful and interesting site. Tour the cabins and stop for the fishing a fly tying program. Then continue up the Agua Fria River (the Rayado and Agua Fria join at the cabin). There are many river crossings as you go upstream. After passing Turkey Canyon the trail will climb up onto the flat on the north side. Watch for a side trail branching to the right after you get to the top and when you are in the deep forest. It is a short hike back to the east to Lost Cabin camp (no cabin, sorry, guess it is lost). This is a fairly dark site as it is heavily forested. Again, you will probably be alone. You can take a side hike to Apache Springs by going back to the fork in the trail and continuing north to the Apache Springs meadow. This is a pretty camp. Try the sweat lodge.

Beaubien: The easiest way (and easiest to navigate) is to go back down to the Agua Fria, return to Fish Camp then take the trail up the Rayado, north. After camp you will meet the road and take it all the way to Phillips Junction Commissary (you'll probably draw food there). Another way to the commissary from Lost Cabin is to hike up to Apache Springs then take the trail in the north part of the meadow, east. You will cross an eaten dam that was made for watering cattle then enter another meadow. In the upper side of it is a trail that goes across the ridge and drops into Buck Creek. At the top of the ridge you will enter a gravel road that goes to Apache Springs. Be very careful on your navigation here. A southern sector map is better for finding your way. Go down Buck creek to the Fish Camp/Phillips Junction road and turn left to follow it to the commissary. After getting food, take the trail up the hill to Beaubien camp. This is an easy hike up. When you enter the meadow, take the trail along the right side of the meadow down to the staff cabin.

Beaubien layover day: There are several good side hikes. I like the half day side hike to Black Mountain Camp but you'll be going there in a couple of days anyway. If your group are hiking demons, you can go down Bonita Meadow to climb Trail Peak. The best way up is to go to Fowler Pass and take the trail just short of the pass, straight up the mountain. Then take the trail back down the west side and back to the meadow trail again. Don't expect any niceties like switchbacks on this climb. It is straight up and down. Plan on most of the day.

Black Mountain: Go back up to the top of the meadow and continue across it, over a low ridge and down to Black Mt. Camp. This a couple hour hike on a good trail. The camp is pretty and the program is interesting.

Cyphers Mine: Hike up the stream valley towards Comanche Pass. It is a fairly easy climb that goes steadily up the hill. Cross the pass and take the trail down the other side. It drops into Lamberts Mine (no mine any more). A trail then goes around the ridge. It soon meets the old mine road that takes you to Cyphers. At Cyphers you will stay in Adarondak Cabins as it is too rocky and steep for tents. These are sort of nice if you don't have anyone in the crew that snores. At Cyphers you can visit the mine.

Cimarroncito: Go back around the ridge road towards Lamberts. Just before the trail camp a trail goes to your left, down the stream towards the Hunting Lodge. A good hike--easy and pretty. When you hit the road past the Hunting Lodge that goes up Cimarroncito Meadow, go by the hunting lodge and climb up the grassy bank to the trail on the other side. Go left and follow the trail up the meadow to Cimarroncito Camp. This will be a crowded camp as there will be a lot of crews camped there or hiking through. You will probably have to make a side hike to the Ute Gulch Commissary for food. Take the trail up the left side of the meadow. At the head of the meadow a trail goes down Grouse Canyon. After the canyon it breaks out onto the commissary road. Hike up the road about a mile. The commissary is on a side road up the hill to the right. The fastest way back is the way you came. Another way is to head for Grouse Canyon. A trail goes to the left just before you enter the canyon. It goes to Aspen Springs. Go through the camp and continue up the trail through Hidden Valley. After the valley you will climb up through rocky Ponderosa Pine forest to the Window Rock--a pretty view. After Window Rock you will go by Cathedral Rock (good view to the other side) then down to the Hunting Lodge. Hike back up Cimarroncito Meadow to your camp.

Cathedral Rock: Back to the Hunting Lodge again. Stay on the trail and don't go to the lodge. It soon goes out onto the road below the lodge. Cross the road and take the trail towards Clarks Fork. After you pass the good view of Cathedral Rock and the reservoir, a trail heads to the left off the main trail to Clarks. Take it. It will go through the woods, past the reservoir and cross the road again below the dam. It will then go down the bank to Cathedral Rock Camp. This is a trail camp that has sites spread all around the woods.

Ponderosa: Go back to the Clarks Fork trail across from the reservoir. This time continue to Clarks Fork. I recommend you get there to have a supper for lunch. You will probably not have much water from now until you get to base camp and don't want to have any meals that take cooking or lots of water (suppers). Drink all you can and fill up as many containers as you are willing to carry and head up the Shaefers Pass trail. About a third of the way up you will see a trail to the left going to Ponderosa. It is around the hill a ways and is probably dry. You aren't in much of a hurry to get there from Clarks. Get a good nights sleep and an early start the next day. It is a long way to base camp.

Base Camp: Go back to the Shaefers Pass trail and continue uphill. Many switchbacks later you will break out onto the pass meadow. You might check the spring. It is usually flowing but has been known to stop with little warning. It is in the SW corner of the meadow, up the grassy slope into the trees. If it is flowing and you can get water, you luck out. Take the trail up Shaefers Peak to the east. It is a LONG way around the north side of the mountain, a big switchback then a LONG way around the west and south side of the mountain until you finally arrive at the Tooth Ridge Trail. You can drop your packs there and take the 100 yard climb up to the top of Shaefers Peak to see the view. Then continue along the Tooth Ridge trail to the east. This is a difficult trail due to its rocky nature. They are building a new trail there. Just before the Tooth the rail goes down the north side a short way to get around a rock slide. When you get back to the crest of the ridge you will see the trail up the Tooth of Time going up the hill to the right. Drop your packs and scramble up. Watch your footing and direction. This is a hazardous climb but the view at the top is worth it. Go back down, pick up your packs and continue down the crest of the ridge all the way to base camp. It should take you an hour or so to get down.

Good Luck,

Bill Griffin

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