Philmont Trek Route #8

by Bill Griffin <> Mon, 13 Apr 1998 09:02:44 -0500

Anasazi: A short hike from 6 mile gate bus dropoff. Be sure to visit the T-Rex footprints in the rocks up the bank on the left side of the trail. Hard to miss as they are surrounded with a chain link fence to preclude vandalism. Anasazi is a quiet trail camp. Water from the stream-purify it.

Indian Writings: This is an easy, short hike but get there early to be sure you get the daytime program. In the evening there is a tour of the petroglyphs on the nearby cliffs. Kids always enjoyed this site.

Ponil: The hike over the ridge to Ponil is interesting. The rock formations above Indian Writings are worth looking at. From atop Harte Peak you will have an excellent view of Baldy. Ponil is a crowded and very public camp-state road goes to it. There is a chuckwagon dinner, horse rides and a root beer cantina. Also commissary. Showers too.

Pueblano Ruins: Cross the creek near the cantina. A short way up the road a trail heads up the ridge then parallels the road below. It finally drops back down to the road near Pueblano. After Pueblano the road turns into a trail to Pueblano Ruins (not many ruins left to see-it was an old logging camp). You can walk back down to Pueblano for the program (or take it on your way through, better) or the evening campfire (if you don't mind going back to camp in the dark).

Copper Park: Continue up the creek, don't go up Baldy Skyline Ridge, and you will finally arrive at French Henry Camp after a lengthy hike with a steady climb in elevation. Above the camp is the Ponil mine. Stop to visit it then continue upstream. After the creek disappears you will finally break out into a meadow at Copper Park. This is a pretty camp--almost park-like. You are also pretty high up.

Lay day: Your second day at Copper Park you are scheduled to climb Baldy AND pick up food at the commissary. You can head directly up Baldy from camp, taking your side hike stuff and enough empty packs to carry food back. Be careful. Not only is this route up Baldy very steep and difficult, the talus slope after the trail ends makes the last part very hard. Footing is uneven and slips, slides and falls are common. Continue up to the saddle to the north of Baldy then head to your left straight to the top. You want to be on your way down from the top by noon so get an early start so you don't have to rush up. Go down the side towards Touch-Me-Not mountain. There is a fair trail on this side. Stop at the saddle between Touch-Me-Not and Baldy to look once more at the Wheeler Peak Wilderness (highest point in NM) and the huge valley below, then continue down the steep but well-defined trail to Baldy Town. Get food, visit the trading post for munchies, take a shower then take the fairly level road around Aztec Ridge back to Copper Park. I suggest using the Northern Sector map in this area as the numerous mining roads can become very confusing and the map of the entire ranch is not as accurate. Even with the Northern Sector map, watch your navigation carefully.

Head of Dean: Retrace your route back towards Baldy Town. As the road around the ridge begins to turn to the south, watch for a trail going off the side towards Ewells Park. Take it. This trail will continue along the Baldy Skyline Ridge. Half way it will turn into a road that goes along the ridge into Head of Dean. Good program (low cope) and fair campsites.

New Dean: Continue on the trail down Dean Canyon (named for the foreman of a ranch that used to operate in this area) to New Dean Camp. This is a decent trail camp.

Dean Cow: Today you will have another fairly easy hike, continuing down Dean Canyon to its end at Dean Cow Camp. Take the rock climbing program.

Harlan: Your final full day on the trail will be longer and harder than the previous couple of days. Climb over the ridge to the south and drop into Turkey Canyon. Go down the canyon and cross highway 64 and the Cimarron River (don't drink in the river even if you purify it--to much garbage dumped into it upstream for my tastes). On the other side you will climb up onto the side of the mesa to Harlan Camp. Good camp and good program.

Base Camp: The trail climbs Deer Lake Mesa a bit then traverses around its side, eventually dropping onto the Ute Gulch Commissary road. Across the road is a trail that goes to Cathedral Rock Camp. At the first sight of the camp (probably a latrine on the edge of the meadow) or when you see the water line opening coming from the dam above, follow the trail/pipeline route down to Cathedral Rock turnaround. You will catch your bus there. Be sure you know the bus time as they won't wait for you. If you get here early, there is a shady grove of scrub oak (Gambrel Oak) to rest in and wait.

Good luck,
Bill Griffin

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