Philmont Trek Route #13

by Bill Griffin <> Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 14:56:18 -0600

Here is the description of route 13, in my opinion and experience:

Sioux: Souix: You will bus to Ponil and hike up the road and across the valley to Souix camp. Not a bad starting camp and you can sample some of the stuff at Ponil if you get there early and get some of the Ranger training out of the way.

Pueblano Ruins: Your route can vary. You can go to Ponil and follow the valley trail directly to Pueblano. This is a good route with a newer trail that follows the ridge rather than taking the road. The other route is over Wilson Mesa from Souix then dropping down to the creek just upstream from Pueblano. This has a pretty view of Baldy from the Mesa. From Pueblano, continue up the creek a short distance to Pueblano Ruins. Suggest you take the program at Pueblano before going to the Ruins.

Copper Park: Follow the trail up the creek from Pueblano. Above Pueblano Ruins take the rocky and difficult trail up onto Baldy Skyline Ridge. Follow along the ridge trail towards Baldy. After quite a ways, you will break out onto a road that goes around Aztec Ridge from Baldy Town to Copper Park. Just above French Henry there is a side mine road that goes down the hill to Ponil Mine shaft. You can take a tour of the mine. Then go back up to the fork in the road and continue towards Copper Park. I suggest you use a northern sector map as the is a confusing place with all the old mine roads and that map is a better scale and more accurate than the regular maps that have the entire ranch on it. Copper Park is a pretty meadow, almost park-like. You are very high.

Copper Park layover: You can climb Baldy. Most climb up from Copper Park. This is a tough climb (I kid you not) and you haven't been at altitude very long. Take your time and be careful. The last time I was on this route I met 4 kids with jammed knees or ankles that slipped on the steep talus slopes below the peak. Go down the other side of Baldy towards Baldy Town. This is a better trail than you took up but is still steep and tough. At Baldy Town, visit the commissary (you had better have taken empty packs) and a shower is nice. Take the road around the ridge back to Copper Park (another chance to visit the mine if you missed it yesterday). REST.

Black Horse: Go back to Baldy Town (can pick up more food) and take the trail to Black Horse that starts above Baldy Town. This is an interesting trail with lots of remnants of the old mining days. Keep looking as you walk. Black Horse is not far from Baldy Town. It is a lightly used site that is in deep forest. Little sun and tends to be damp. Good streams for water. There are the remains of an old mining stamp mill there. It fell down a few years ago. Be careful looking around.

Head of Dean: Head down towards Miranda. The best way to Head of Dean is through Ute Meadows. Go out to the Baldy Town Road. Across the road is a good trail up onto Baldy Skyline Ridge. Follow it to Head of Dean. This way you will not get to Miranda. If you want to go into Miranda for the program, get there early (9am) then either go back up to Ute Meadows and to the ridge or go out through the Miranda burro pens to the Baldy road and take the side road to your left up onto the Baldy Skyline Ridge. This is a tough climb with full packs up onto the ridge. No switchbacks that are recognizable as such. But, being steep, it is short. At the top stay on the ridge to Head of Dean. A new trail is being built from below Miranda to Head of Dean but they hit rock a couple of years ago and need to dynamite to finish. Last I heard they still don't have the trail open. Good program and pretty good camp at Head of Dean, so don't get there late.

Dean Cow: You will hike the length of Dean Canyon (named after a ranch foreman) through Upper Dean. This is a nice walk but a bit long. Fair campsites at Dean Cow and rock climbing.

Harlan: Cross the ridge south of Dean Cow and into Turkey Canyon. Go down the canyon and cross the highway and Cimarron River (near the town of Cimarron). Be careful. Climb up the ridge to Harlan.

Aspen Springs: From Harlan you will hike around Deer Lake Mesa and then drop down and cross the road to the commissary. You will have to go up the road a couple of miles to the commissary. The Ute Gulch commissary is on a side road to the left. Return back down the road until you see a trail heading to the right (south) up the bank. A short distance into the trees you will reach a fork. Take the left trail into Aspen Springs. There is a water tap from Cimarroncito Camp in the Springs. Good camps.

Upper Clarks Fork: The best way is to take the trail to the north, around the ridge into Cimarroncito. Go down the meadow to the road below the Hunting Lodge (in the trees to your right at the foot of the meadow). Continue to the road. Cross it and take the trail up the opposite bank. It goes to Clarks Fork. You may want to have a supper for lunch while there. Ask the staff for a campsite for cooking. This could be the last water you find until base camp tomorrow (however, I usually find water just above Upper Clarks Fork, just don't trust it, I take a water bladder too). When ready, take the trail up Shaefers Pass. About half way you will pass by a campsite. There are a couple of camps stretched out for about a half mile along the trail.

Base Camp: Continue up the trail. Hope you still have a lot of water! At Shaefers Pass check the spring. Its in the SE corner of the meadow, up the grassy slope. It usually is flowing but can give out on short notice. Count it as a bonus if you find it flowing. Take the trail up Shaefers Peak. The trail reaches Tooth Ridge on the east side of the peak. You can drop your packs there and climb the 100 yards to the top to get the view. Return to the packs and continue eastward down Tooth Ridge. This is a tough, hot and rocky trail. But, it isn't steep. A new trail is under construction. At the Tooth the trail drops down the north side a bit to get around the rock slide area. When you reach the ridge again, drop your packs and scramble up the Tooth. Be careful this is the most dangerous climb you will make. Afterwards, continue down the ridge trail to base camp. You can easily get there by noon.

Good luck and have a great time.

Bill Griffin

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