Philmont Trek Route #13

by Brian Gannon <briang@vt.edu> Fri, 17 Apr 1998 22:06:56 -0400

Sioux: The first day is a pretty easy one. Your bus will drop you off about a half-mile before Ponil camp. You will walk up the road continuing past Ponil and Sioux camp will be about a mile on the other side of Ponil, off the to the left. The sites there aren't great, but it's a fairly nice camp with a small meadow. Since you are so close to Ponil, you can easily take a side hike there to participate in the program, visit the cantina/trading post, etc.

Pueblano Ruins: There are two options for your hike today. The first one is to hike back to Ponil then head west to Pueblano and Pueblano Ruins. This is the easier route. Your other choice is to continue up the road away from Ponil and go over Wilson Mesa. This is a farily difficult and longer hike but the views of Baldy are exceptional. The trail from the top drops down to Pueblano Camp. Make sure you take part in the spar-pole climbing-the kids always enjoy it. I would also recommend hiking back to Pueblano (a short hike from Pueblano Ruins) after dinner for the campfire, which is one of the best on the ranch. Make sure to take flashlights and jackets as you'll be hiking back in the dark.

Copper Park: You'll continure northwest, hiking past French Henry Camp on your way. While there, take part in the program, which includes mine tour, gold panning and blacksmithing. The hike from French Henry to Copper Park is a difficult one. However, it worth it as Copper Park is one of the nicer trail camps at Philmont.

Layover day: Today is the day you climb Baldy. Make sure you take lunch, full water bottles and warm clothing for your hike. Plan on leaving camp by no later than 7am to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. The hike to the top from Copper Park is farily difficult, with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet. The views from the top are unobstructed and spectacular. It is usually quite windy at the top, so make sure everyone has adequate warm clothing. The easiest way back is the same way you came up. You could go down the other side and circle through Baldy Camp, but your scheduled hike tomorrow will take you right through Baldy Camp where you make your food pickup.

Black Horse: You will head south to Baldy Camp where you are scheduled for a food pickup at the commissary. Check your map carefully--there are a lot of old mining roads in the vicinity. In addition, a small trading post and showers are available. BLM volunteers also present a mining program there, though I have never participated in it. The trail from Baldy Town to Black Horse begins at the horse corral and it is relatively level and a very nice hike. Black Horse Camp is a trail camp along the Ute Creek.

Head of Dean: I have personally never hiked this route, so maybe someone else can fill you in on this part of the hike. Head of Dean offers a challenge course which is a good program and it has decent campsites. You are also scheduled for your conservation prject here, which most likely will be timber stand improvement.

Dean Cow: Today is a fairly long hike through Dean Canyon, though it is not too diffcult. Dean cow offers rock climbing, make sure to get to camp early enough to participate in it.

Harlan: From Dean Cow, cross over the ridge to the south and drop into Turkey Canyon. This can be a hot hike, so do it early in the day. You will cross Highway 64. Do not take water from the polluted Cimarron River. There is a new trail built that leads from 64 up to Vaca Camp. It opened right at the end of last summer. I got a chance to hike it and it is a major improvement over the old trail. Harlan is just to west of Vaca and it offers shotgun shooting plus burro racing in the evening. Good camp.

Aspen Springs: This hike is not too difficult, following along Deer Lake Mesa. The trail will lead to a road on the other side of the mesa, near Ute Springs Camp. Hike north along the road to Ute Gulch commissary for your scheduled food pickup. After that is complete, head back down the road and take the trail through Grouse Canyon, which will be on your right. It is a spectacular hike. Aspen Springs is one of my favorite camps. There are lot of large boulders in the area-be careful and make sure no gets hurt trying to climb them. The water there is purified-it is piped in from Cimarroncito Camp.

Upper Clarks Fork: Make sure to fill up with water before starting out. Hike back to the road, hike south past the Hunting Lodge and take the trail to Clarks Fork. Upper Clarks Fork is a short hike past Clarks Fork. Upper Clarks Fork Camp is spread out quite a bit, if you don't see any empty sites in the first section, continue hiking and you will come to a second section of sites. The stream in the upper section is usually flowing, but you should check with the staff at Clarks Fork about its current status.

Base Camp: Your last day on the trail. It is best to get an early start today. Continue hiking up to Shaffer's Pass Camp. In the soutwest corner of the meadow there, there is a small spring. It is usually fairly dependable but it has been known to dry up. This is your last chance to get water before base camp. Tooth Ridge is a difficult hike, so make sure everyone fills up here. From the camp, take the trail up to the top of Shaffer's Peak. When you get the top, the peak is actually about 100 yards down the trail to the left- nice views. The Tooth Ridge Trail goes off to the right. It is rocky trail with lots of ups and downs-watch your footing. When you get to the base of the tooth, you can drop your packs and take a side hike (really more of a climb) up to the top to enjoy the 360-degree views. From there, it is a two-hour hike back to base camp, downhill all the way. If you didn't get an early start, the afternoon thunderstorms will be chasing you all the way down.

Enjoy your trek,

Brian Gannon

Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 1113 (Fairfax, VA)
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