Make It a Looping Return!
If you are hiking up Sawmill Canyon and would like to enjoy some off trail that is not really that off, consider adding this short spur trail as an augment to your return route. Basically, it loops a small knob, winding along the boundary fence (Forest Service / Mescalero Indian Reservation).
If you are hiking from in Ruidoso off the High Rocky Road, you will be about 1.5 miles up canyon when you hit the intersection. If you are hiking over from the Casino, you will be about 1.66 miles into your hike. Best to check the maps to orient to this track.
This diversion will bring you right back to the Forest Rd 9017E you were hiking up canyon. On the map, the route only shows the connection on the western end, but in reality, there is a road that turns off to the south on the eastern end. You will intersect this route just after crossing the small drainage... usually the first with any water in it. Turn left off of FR 9017E, proceed not quite to the top of the road cut (.2 miles) ... and turn to your right when you encounter the steep cleared road bed heading to the top of the slope in that direction.
Once on top you will encounter the narrow use trail that winds back over towards the Reservation. It will not be long before the trail widens out to a full double track. Eventually, it moves over right next to the boundary fence and follows that up and down until it encounters the old logging road coming in from the right.
That road section meets FR 9017E at the top of the hill... short loop complete!
There seems to be varied disagreement as to whether or not it is okay to hike on the Reservation property. The folks at the Casino said it is fine. Most of the signs you encounter in the area tell you just the opposite. Supposedly, the signs are to keep the Hotel clients safe and not lost out in the forest. Fortunately, this spur remains fully within the National Forest boundaries.
Check out the 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.