STOCKADE - Your first day is pretty easy. The bus will drop you off at Lover's Leap turnaround and from there, it is less than half a mile to the Stockade. There are some campsites right near the Stockade, but we actually slept in the fort. If you come out on the morning bus, you should serioulsy consider hiking up the Stockade trail to the top of the Tooth. It is a steep trail, but the 360 degree views make it well worth the hike. I have also seen crews forget about the bus and hike UP the Tooth Ridge trail from base camp and then down the Stockade trail into Stockade camp. That is always an option, but it makes for a very difficult first day.
MINER'S PARK - Hike back to the bus turnaround. From there, follow the road for just a little ways across the bridge. Take the trail to your left which goes to Lovers Leap. Nice views from the top of the cliff. Continue into Lovers Leap Camp. Follow the signs carefully to Miners Park. The trail sort of circles around the meadow. Make sure you take the trail as the road is no fun. Hopefully, you should get to Miner's early enough to get some rock climbing in. It is a nice camp surrounded by Ponderosa Pine.
BEAUBIEN - Get an early start today. From Miner's, head south on the trail towards Crater Lake. DO NOT take the road to Beaubien. The road is extremely steep with little to no shade. Not good for hiking at all. If you want, you can do some spar-pole climbing at Crater Lake, but I recommend waiting until you get to Pueblano later on. Take the trail behind the cabin at Crater up towards Fowler Pass. Here you have the option of going up and over Trail Peak. It's a difficult hike, but it's worth it. There is wreckage of an old army bomber scattered along the west side of the mountain. Otherwise, continue on up along Bonita Creek. Try and be at Beaubien by 3 so you can have your cooks ready for the chuckwagon dinner and you get to the branding area.
COMANCHE PEAK - Another fairly difficult hike today. You have two options. The first, and easiest, is to head south to Phillips Junction, up the trail along the creek, then up the valley to Red Hills Camp and Comanche Peak. Or you can north out of Beaubien and cross over Bonita Peak and Big Red. Comanche Peak is considered a dry camp and the nearest reliable water is at the lower campsites of Red Hills Camp. If you have time, and the weather permits, you can take a 3-mile round trip side hike from camp to the summitt of Mt. Phillips.
ASPEN SPRINGS - Head north to Thunder Ridge then follow the trail downhill to Cypher's Mine. Time permitting, try and get in some blacksmithing and take the mine tour. Then head east on the Middle Fork trail to the Hunting Lodge. Don't take the North Fork trail as it has been closed for the past several years. Then head north through Cimarroncito to Aspen Springs. This is my favorite trail camp with lots of big boulders all around. The water is piped from Cito and is purified. Make sure to send some people on the Ute Gulch to pick up your next supply of food.
SANTA CLAUS - Head to Ute Gulch commissary. This is your last chance for purified water today so make sure you fill up. Take the trail which leads from behind the commissary. You will hike past Devil's Wash Basin, Upper Bench, Visto Grande and Cimarron River Camps. Then you will cross a bridge over the Cimarron River (don't get water out of the River, even if yuo purify it) and then go underneath U.S. 64. Then comes the hard part: Bear Canyon. They have built a new trail so it's a lot easier than it used to be. Santa Claus is a nice camp with a pretty meadow. Make sure to purify the water.
BALDY CAMP - On your way to Baldy Camp, stop at Head of Dean and do the challenge course. Lots of fun. Not a bad day, but kind of long. Baldy Camp is not used very often for overnight campers but the campsites aren't too bad. There is commissary for your food pick-up plus a small trading post. BLM volunteers are stationed at the camp and they present an interesting program on mining that took place in the area. Enjoy some hot showers - the showerhouse is one of the nicest on the Ranch.
PUEBLANO - If you want to hike Baldy, which you should, get a very early start. Take warm clothing, plenty of water and lunch. You can leave everything else at camp, but make sure your bear bags are hung. Plan on at least half a day to get to the top and back. When I went, we encountered another crew with a medical emergency and we didn't get back to camp until 5:00 and we still had to hike to Pueblano! The hike to Pueblano is pretty easy, actually. It shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. If you can, try and get there by mid-afternoon so you can enjoy some spar pole climbing. Even though it's been a long day, try and get to the campfire as it is always one of the best at Philmont.
OLD CAMP - You have two choices for today's hike. The first is to hike to the top of Wilson Mesa and then down into Bent and Ponil. This is harder but the views of Baldy from the top of the mesa are spectacular. Your second option is to hike east along the ridge trail from Pueblano to Ponil (not on the road). Take a break at Ponil and enjoy some snacks and root beer at the cantina. You also have a food pick-up scheduled at Ponil. From Ponil, it shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours to hike to Old Camp. Make sure to purify the water you get out of the well.
INDIAN WRITINGS - Easy hike today. It is less than four miles, flat all of the way, to Indian Writings. Get an early start as the North Ponil Canyon can get hot during the day. Make sure to take the guided tour of the petroglyphs and the pit house. It is really interesting.
SIX MILE GATE - Your last day! Take the trail to Six Mile Gate, not the road. Along the way, you will pass by the only known T-Rex track in the world, discovered just a few years ago. The track itself is fenced off, but you can still get some good photos. Ask the staff at IW to tell you about it. There is a replica of it hanging above the registers at the base camp trading post. From there, Six Mile Gate waits for you just a little ways down the trail.