Hike Bike or Run...
2013 Note: New reroute at Osha Loop.
Osha Trail (T10) formally includes the 1.8 mile loop designated as Forest Trail 10 plus the .2 mile spur trail section leading down to Hiway 82, where the Trailhead is established. This easy to reach trailhead along the main road leading into Cloudcroft, NM attracts many passerbys... and makes this one of the busier trails in the area. In addition to this basic loop, there are numerous options to expand the mileage along adjacent and connecting trails:
T568... gives a .2 mile connection over to Pines Campground
T568A...connects the Village of Cloudcroft with Pines Campground (and laps over the Osha Trail)
T5688...provides a .5 mile connection over to Forest Road 206C (Bailey Canyon access)
One of the better ways to enjoy this heavily forested loop is to park in town, instead of down at the Trailhead, and walk from Burro Avenue down Mexican Ave/Osha Trail.. splitting to the right when Mexican Ave falls away down the hill. At this point you are walking on one of the old railway grades, now designated T568A. You will soon leave the houses behind. You can drive this first section and park at the barricade .2 miles in, but the parking there is limited. It is better to enjoy the walk in. The Osha trail marker will indicate a left turn about .3 miles from the barricade. Once on the trail simply bear right at all intersections and you will return to your point of origin back on T568A. Or better still, enjoy the options and wander around the other trails... none are very long, most are developed over old timber company railway lines. The maze of wandering trails are all bordered by Forest Road 206C which if reached will take you back to Hiway 82 on it's lower end, or NM244 on it's upper end (then back to 82) effectively connecting to the Village from either end.
These connecting trails are especially nice if you are on your mountain bike... the various and numerous options for explorations provide a diverse outing with only medium level difficulty.
Note: If the Loop is begun at the Trailhead, be aware that the spur connecting up to the loop covers a 30% grade, using numberous log step ups. For a conditioned hiker this is just a fun traverse... but anyone out of shape or with knee problems might want to avoid this hit.
Early mornings provide excellent chances to encounter the numerous elk, deer and the occasional bear... along with a nice grouping of wild turkeys that frequent the meadow midway through the loop.
This hike is an excellent route to enjoy a lively trail run. Done clockwise you will encounter three upgrades, each a bit more difficult than the other. The downhill footing is challenging for running but very doable.
There is a rewarding view of the White Sands playa, 4500' below... and a nice perspective view of the Village of Cloudcroft. Seasonally, wildflowers abound.
Be prepared for people midday, but for the most part you can get a sense of being off and away; like most of the trails in this mountain range... the usage is minimal.
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.