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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Willie White Trail #113, NM

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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,503 feet
Elevation Gain 770 feet
Accumulated Gain 770 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.57
Interest Seasonal Creek
Post the 1st photoset!
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Aug, Sep, Jul, May → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:46am - 6:11pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Ah, The Shade!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
The logical trailhead for the trail section lies down at the bottom of the drainage off of Rio Penasco Road, Forest road 164... and if you do start down at that bottom, you will have an additional 500' of climbing to reach the highpoint of the trail.

More commonly it is hiked from it's access point off of Forest Road 5009, The Old Sunspot Hiway. From this point, it climbs steeply and steadily up a narrow side drainage (Telephone Canyon), winding across an often rocky, rough path. It tops the ridge at about 9410', intersecting at that point with T5008, The Willis Canyon Trail. Also at that point it crosses an old timber road that winds off to the west, headed towards one of the higher points in the range close to 9,600', and eventually connecting with Forest Road 64. Ideally, this old roadbed (6411) should not have any ATV use, which is all too common on all the official forest trail routes.

From the cresting high point, The Willy White trail drops off the ridge and winds down and around through Willie White Canyon, to connect with the lower trailhead on Rio Penasco Rd... and also, intersecting T112, a spur trail leading over to the areas nicest springs and waterfall: Bluff Springs. The trail also connects again with T5008, Willis Canyon Trail... which begins and ends on each of it's ends off the Willy White trail.

This trail, as with most of the trails in this area, are best used to compose a variety of connecting loops. They do not really go anywhere... they just wind around... the remainders of old logging activity from the prior century. The higher elevation and nicely tree shrouded trail coverage makes this an ideal mid summer hike.

The section up from FR5009 is very rocky in some spots... not an ideal route for a beginning mountain bike rider; they would do better to ride down one of the milder alternative routes. Being able to ride the uphill legs out on the paved Sunspot Hiway does make for some pleasant mountain bike riding loops, with a wide variety of possible ascents. If you do want to ride uphill, consider connecting with the old logging road (6411)... it will provide one of the nicer and easier ascents.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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2012-06-11 imike

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Willie White Trail #113
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    Triplog 7 22 2012

    5am departure Saturday morning... drove down the hill in the dark with a huge load of cordwood cut the evening before. I unloaded the wood, attended to a few in town errands, then headed back up the mountain. At 9am I stopped off for a short hike on the Switchback trail, meeting up with the local Rails to Trails group for some maintenance work on the Switchback... it was an easy few hours clearing dirt and rocks out of the gazebo area and cinder debris from an old wooden culvert. From there... on up to the mountain top...Sunday was to be the longer hike of the week.

    It was not an early start Sunday morning... just did not feel all that great, but, up at 6:55am... walking out for the trail by 7:05am. It was clear and nice... partly cloudy. The day looked to have potential.

    I'm camped at 9400'... so for the most part the early parts of the day would be mostly downhill. I headed cross country off trail to connect up with the old Upper Wills Canyon trail. The guide book shows the trail to be there; it is not... has not been there for ten years. The official route now tops out at Forest Road 64 instead of over in Hubbell Canyon, but if you know where to look, it makes for a nicer access to walk the old route. ATV campers dominate the trailheads along FR 64... It is nicer to miss out on those gatherings to kick off the day.

    I hit the old trail... followed it down and into the official trail and wound down and around to the end of Upper Wills, intersecting Wills Canyon Trail about a mile below it's upper end. At this point, Wills Canyon Trail moving down and around follows the railroad grade... the same grade that winds up and over into Hubbell Canyon. The upper end of Wills Canyon tracks up a side drainage on the north side of Wills Canyon finally reaching the ridge top at the same junction point of the old logging road 6411, and Willie White trail (113) heading either down Telephone Canyon... or Willie White Canyon. I'd hiked that portion a few weeks ago... today would be an exploration down and around towards the bottom of Willie White Canyon.

    This is a very nice hike. The old railway bed makes for a soft grade to climb or descend, and the old remains of the railroad provide inspirations for reflections back to a very interesting time... passing the reversing hairpin switchback put my thoughts right into the moment where the train whistles would have signaled the last car clearing the switch rail... the ground man throwing the switch track... the train clanging connections as it rolled back down, then up the reversed grade.

    I paused at the rotting wreck of an old trestle spanning one of the side drainages... munched down a banana and energy drink... wondered why I'd not sited a single animal all day...? Might have been the earbuds... I was listening to Texas Swing for the first three hours of the day!

    I looped around to Willie White Canyon, caught the Willie White Trail for the beginning of the climb back up to the top. Old rusting rails piled to the side of the grade were the final reminder of the train activity... most of Willie White was not graded out for trains... probably more tractor and drag line activity serviced the logging for this steeper canyon.

    At the top, I thought about cutting down July canyon... a hidden route descending to Upper Wills Canyon and providing a connecting access to 6th Gate Canyon road... but the weather was closing in. I decided to keep it easier with no unnecessary looping descents. I headed off up the old logging road 6411... Pausing only long enough to drag a log across the road bed. ATV users are prohibited from using this route, but it is so nice, they continually violate the restriction... I work at blocking off the illegal access, at least making them take a moment to have to clear the route, ideally giving them a subtle reminder to stay out...?

    The rain started as I was dragging the log... out came the umbrella. I walked in a soft but steady rain for the next hour. It was interesting to walk and take notice of the additional side routes I'd discovered over the last few weeks... off trail drainage cuts that would allow easy access between this high ridge road, and the lower valley routes to the south. As I wound higher, I could gaze down into Brown Canyon to the north... remembering yet more off trail routes I'd enjoyed. This set of weeks camped up off of Forest Road 64 has been an impressive series of discovery hikes. I think there are probably four or five more areas to explore, then I can reset camp further along FR 64... And begin to explore the High Valley section of hikes. I don't expect that they will be as impressive as the High Ridge section has been... but... who knows!

    With today's 7+ hour effort I think I am finally back in good enough shape to plan out some real training (pretty bad when I have to train for six weeks to get in good enough shape to be able to begin to lay base miles!)

    I've plotted out a 12 week program for base cardio training... using heart rate monitoring to control the effort.{113/124}{120/130}{126/139} It is in three progressive levels of 4 weeks each... after that I meet Susan mid October to hike Wheeler Peak.

    Next, if all goes well, I'll do a second series: 12 weeks of slightly higher level cardio training... in the mid range that has the most profound impact on endurance level training. {125/130}{130/135}{140/146} ... that should get me ready to finally drift back to Tucson to score a x4 on Finger Rock Trail...

    That should also get me up to the level wherein I can then do a final 12+/- weeks of upper level training...{125/130}{140/146}{147/152}{153/165} refined efforts that will include some enhanced hikes that ideally will allow me to take a shot at breaking my single day records... just in time for my 64th birthday in March! Either 7 or 8 loops on Guadalupe Peak over in Texas?

    The 12 weeks will each have four cardio workouts: 2 hour, 3 hour, 4 hour and a progressive day: hour added each week, 6 hour...taking it up to 18 hour day at the end of the 12 weeks.

    36 weeks of careful efforts... lots could go wrong... but, it should be fun to give it a try.

    Interesting that the use of the heart rate monitor (which I used back in 2008/2009 to set my current records) is not to make sure that I work hard enough... but instead is used for the most part to make sure I do not work too hard on any given workout... the idea is to do the right workout each time I head out the door.

    Then again... I might just be getting too old for this over the top nonsense.

    Not a single animal sited all day!!!!
    Willie White Trail #113
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    Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Bear and Bull Elk!

    Exceptionally nice to have the cool morning air, but even if it were warmer out, the cut of the trail would have kept me walking in deep shade. Winding around the western edge of the ridges is ideal morning routing. On one of the earlier curves I came in sight of the rear end of an elk... grazing with his head down and away from me. I walked softly to within about 20 yds, then turned on the camera. The buzz caused him to lift his head and turn towards me... big rack of antlers! Hopefully, I got that full face shot. (Can't tell on my camera until later; view screen has not worked since that fall down the waterfall last year!)

    More curves... more elk... lots of bull elk. They'd move on aways, then bugle or honk a complaint.

    I moved around the old logging road track, splitting off and down towards Water Canyon... the idea to traverse around to Telephone Canyon if all went well.

    It did!

    At the far end of the lower leg of 6411, where the road bed deadended, the elk trails began. I followed them down and around into the lower section of Telephone Canyon, dropping bench to bench and finally into the lower meadow area, intersecting Willie White Trail just as it began it's trek up Telephone. The Elk did good! In many respects, their trails were nicer than those official tracks maintained by the Forest Service!

    One down, I decided to hike up Water Canyon. The official route is 5009, the Old Sunspot Hiway... but, the canyon bottom had long ago held a logging road, and it promised a more interesting route than the open, exposed old hiway. I was not 100 yds into the up canyon walk when I sited a potential side canyon trail. I am constantly on the lookout for these old cuts; they tend to lead to very interesting mini-adventures.

    I stopped and started to eyeball the trail line up the side of the opposite hill. At the first bunch of brushes obscuring the thin trail I noted the observer was being observed. A Black Bear was tucked in behind the shrubbery watching me. I watched him back. He watched, me watched, we watched. After a time I broke the stalemate with some idle chatter, assuring him I was headed up Water Canyon... and I apologized for interrupting his drinking interlude. He ambled on up trail, away from me. I did the same from him. I need to go back and check out that trail, sans bear.

    I was two hours into my hiking day as I worked my way up along the little stream that irrigates most of the length of the canyon. It was interesting. The hot air rising on the ridges was causing a down draft of cold air, hitting face on as I worked my way up the drainage. It was cooler than it had been at 5am!

    To hike Water Canyon on those lower trail as opposed to the upper road cut is an entirely different experience. It is the way to do this canyon.

    The bird life... the flowers... the butterflies... the soft gurgle of water. I found myself stopping, sitting and soaking in the moments. I thought about the issue of solo hiking, and could not imagine not getting to enjoy these moments... and pondered just how much non-solo hiking was a reasonable balance...?

    I passed Brown Canyon then Deadman Canyon... both reasonable alternatives for looping back to the car, but I wanted to check out the alternative southern fork of the upper Water Canyon. If there was a way to avoid the upper section, directly adjacent to the old hiway it would be nice. I got lucky... the south cut was an open meadow leading right up to one of the old logging roads... a greatly improved access to this wet canyon area.

    All in all... a very nice morning outing. Now, it any of the pictures will have turned out....?
    Willie White Trail #113
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    The plan was to loop this trail, including Trail 5008, Willis Canyon... with possibly adding in T112, the spur over to Bluff Springs, but the prior day's work efforts (6 hours at Habitat for Humanity and then cutting and loading a cord of wood) had left me stiff, sore and tired. As I began to drop down off the high ridge at the top of Telephone Canyon, I realized the thought of dropping down, then around and back up... then down Telephone yet again, only to have to finish by climbing all the way back up to the beginning... well, it was not a good thought. Instead, I turned around and walked back up to the ridge on top of Willie White Canyon.

    I'd noticed an old logging road bed heading off and up the ridgeline. It occurred to me that it might well stay high on the ridge and get me back up to FR 64... or at least close enough for me to make a cross country traverse without having to lose so much elevation. It was a nice thought.

    Of course, I had no map along, nor had I studied one of the area (I always do that after the hike!)

    Now, driving in the day before I had stopped and watered the horses of two riders who had been lost most of the day. Their planned eight mile ride had turned into over 14 when I ran into them, and if they followed my instructions they still had 5 miles to go to get back to their car... they had a GPS but had lost it during their first hour of riding. Here I was about to take off cross country with as little information as they had, but I've always had a good sense of direction. Dead reckoning has always worked well for me... did again today. The old road bed turned out to go all the way back to FR64 where I was parked. I also spotted some good potentials for additional logging road hikes... and, studying the map once back to the computer, I realize there may be many more to check out. In addition to the fifty plus formal forest service trails I've yet to hike in this immediate area, there are likely hundreds of canyon logging roads to document! 2013/2014 looks to be filled already!

    I am way out of shape... hopefully this three hikes a week pattern will begin to correct that. All the remodel project work, combined with the 24 cords of wood I'm cutting is making it a bit tough!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Cloudcroft, follow hiway 130, 1.8 miles out of town, turning right on to Sunpot Hiway (6563) and following it 8.5 miles (just half mile past mile post 8) where you will turn left on to Upper Rio Penasco Rd (164)... follow this just under 2 miles and turn right onto FR 5009... following that gravel road .7 miles to the marked trailhead. To reach the lower trailhead on Rio Penasco rd, instead of turning onto fr5009, follow Rio Penasco Road (164) 4.5 miles from your turn off of the Sunspot Hiway... look for the marked trailhead on your right.
    page created by imike on Jun 11 2012 9:01 am
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