It's 2, No 3...No 4 Trails in One!
Look at a Topo Map and Trail 91 is clearly marked, rising out of Ruidoso on each end. It connects up with both a Loop Trail (91A)and a Spur Trail (91B). Unfortunately, the map fails to illustrate the true story.
The official guide book talks about the development of this trail system... with the plans formed back in the late 1990's... and still awaiting execution in 2002.
The book describes the lower end of the route as hard to track. It suggests that you wait until the trails are completed.
You would still be waiting.
Oddly enough, the lower end of the trail is clear... it takes off out of Mine Canyon climbing along a too well established Jeep track. Deeply rutted and too steeply angled, there is no problem following this route except for the fact that all it does is climb straight up the narrow saddle back ridge.
The Jeep portion terminates atop the fourth mini-peak. From that point on you might have a problem holding to the "true" trail except for the fact that all you have to do is continue to climb. As long as you move up you are on the correct route... except for when you are moving down, which you do after you crest each mini-peak. The repeated drops to the upside saddle will add close to 300' to your total ascent to the Mesa. If you are returning on the same route, remember to add that same amount to your net AEG!
Note: the fourth peak Jeep road section is a Jeep hyper challenge route... you can avoid this section by simply heading to the right (east) when the trail splits before the base of that hill. The alternate trail will wind you gently up and around to the next saddle.
There are six mini-peaks to ascend/descend over the course of the 3 miles to the Mesa. You will know you are finally on the Mesa portion when you cross the upper reaches of Sawmill Canyon. That is about the only way to know; you cannot tell by looking.
There is no Mesa.
The area labeled Grindstone Mesa is yet another, broader, saddle back ridge. There are some flattened wider areas in the upper reaches, but for the most part you could walk the middle of the area and see the ridge fall down and away from you on either side. Sawmill Canyon falls away in a gentle slope, covered with deadfall. The opposite side, North Fork Cienegita Canyon, has a nicer top edge.
Oddly, the proposed loop route shown on the Topo Map (90A) fails to approach either edge... just carving a small circle in the middle of the tree shrouded top.
It is a nice area... or could be. There has been extensive tree felling. Multiple roads have been cut into the area and huge piles of downed trees remained piled along the roads. Where the map shows Trail 91 winding along the north end of the Mesa, instead there is a much improved road plowing through the area. Effectively, trail 91 merged with that road back on top of Peak 6.
The same wide cut roadbed continues on and becomes what the Map calls the Spur Trail (91B).
So... there is no 91, 91A, nor 91B... at least not now. There may be the remains of the north end of 91 dropping down to the Black Forest Subdivision as shown on the map, but really it should be given a different designation. It is totally disconnected from the trail rising up from Mine Canyon.
All of this may soon change.
There must be 1000 survey flags tagged along the routes... with a suggestion that the new trail route might correct many of the shortcomings of the original trail. Time will tell.
For now, enjoy this area as if you were doing an off trail exploratory. Until they finish their work, for the most part you are.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
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