Philmont Trek Route #26

by Bill Griffin <> Tue, 31 Mar 1998 10:36:10 -0600

Okay. To put the following in context, my opinions and observations are as the result of 22 years hiking at Philmont.

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: Your route can vary. You can go to Ponil and follow the valley trail directly to Pueblano. This is a good route (and the only practical one if you take burros) 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.

Ewells Park: Follow the trail up the creek from Pueblano. Above Pueblano Ruins take the rocky and difficult trail up onto Baldy Skyline Ridge. If you have burros, drop down the other side to Miranda and turn them in. Take the Miranda program then hike up to Ute Meadows. From there go out to the Baldy Town road. Across the road is a trail back up onto Baldy Skyline Ridge. At the top, continue towards Baldy until you get to Ewells Park. If you don't have burros and want to get to Ewells Park rapidly, when you get to the top of the ridge from Pueblano Ruins, continue along the crest to Ewells Park.

Layover day: From Ewells Park, hike out to the French Henry to Baldy Town road. Go around to Baldy Town. Climb from there. It is a good climb and very interesting. Probably going back down the way you climbed is the best choice as you may have to visit the commissary for more food (and a shower). Rather than go directly back to Ewells Park, you may want to continue around the Aztec Ridge road to a side road that drops down to the Ponil Mine. You can tour it then return to Ewells Park for the night. If you got to Ewells Park directly and early the day before you could hit the mine as a side hike that day, taking the pressure of of the Baldy climb day.

Santa Claus: Since last year is a trail camp with no staff. The water wasn't reliable enough to keep a staff there. From Ewells follow Baldy Skyline Ridge all the way to Head of Dean. Take the good program there and continue along the ridge to Santa Claus. This is a pretty meadow. There is a well with a solar pump.

Deer Lake Mesa: This is a long day but not terribly difficult. Take the trail (old jeep road) down to the head of Bear Canyon. There is a fork there with trails going down the east and west side. I usually take the east side trail/jeep road. The old west side road was extremely difficult, however, there is a new trail down the west side that may be the best way (if it is finished). At the bottom you will cross the highway through the culvert, climb up onto the suspension bridge and go over the Cimarron River (don't use the water even if you purify it). Then go up to Visto Grande camp (good spring, but a bit slow) then continue up onto the Bench. Follow the trail along the top of the mesa to a major trail fork. The left fork goes a short distance to Deer Lake Mesa Camp. This camp is often listed as dry. There is a reservoir there but I seldom find decent water in it. I have located the spring that is a mile down the Harlan trail. Walk quietly and you may hear the spring gurgling to your left down the gully.

Clarks Fork: From Deer Lake Mesa camp continue along the top of the mesa. The trail will drop down to Ute Gulch Commissary on the other side. Be careful not to follow the main trail down to the road. Just after dropping down from the crest of Deer Lake Mesa the commissary trail (newer) heads off to the left. Get food and water then go down the road a couple of miles. Watch for a trail heading off the road to your RIGHT. This goes through Grouse Canyon and enters the head of Cimarroncito Meadow. Go down the meadow to the staff cabin. You can take the rock climbing program if you want. Continue down the meadow trail, breaking out onto the road. Cross the road and take the trail to Clarks Fork. Long day.

Base Camp: Get your last reliable water until base camp. This is a long hike. Its about 16 switchbacks up to Shaefers Pass. You might check the spring in the sw corner of the meadow, up the grassy slope. It is usually reliable but has been known to dry up with little notice. From the pass head up Shaefers Peak to the Ridge on the other side. If you want to climb another peak, drop your packs on the top of the ridge and take the 100 yard side hike to the top of Shaefers Peak. Then follow the difficult and hot trail east along the ridge to the Tooth of Time. After scrambling to the top and returning to your packs, it is about 2 hours down to base camp, following the ridge all the way down.

Long days and a tough hike. Be in good shape.

Bill Griffin

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