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Hamilton Mesa Trail #249, NM

no permit
71 4 0
Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Northeast
4.3 of 5 by 3
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Distance One Way 11.46 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,795 feet
Elevation Gain 2,221 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,957 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 21.31
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2019-05-26 friendofThunderg
34  2018-05-31
Pecos Wilderness
28  2018-05-31
Pecos Wilderness
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, Jun, May, Aug
Sun  5:45am - 6:10pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!

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    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
    Hamilton Mesa Trail #249
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pecos Wilderness
    Chumley was in charge and planned a solid trip to New Mexico. Our original plan was to spend five days in the wilderness but we cut it short one day due to weather and other factors.

    We departed Phoenix on Wednesday after work and stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque. We woke on Thursday morning and drove the final two hours to the Jacks Creek Trailhead in the Santa Fe National Forest. The months of planning were behind us and it was go time!

    Thursday, May 31st
    We arrived to our trailhead and packed up and started the hike in. We started by dropping a few hundred feet to the Pecos River. We followed the river for a bit and then the trail makes a solid climb to the Iron Gate Campground. We took a break there and then continued to the northeast. The miles were tough with our very heavy packs loaded with five days worth of food and warm gear. With much effort we arrived at our camp and found a nice site situated along the Rio Valdez. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing around camp. There will be no campfires for us due to stage 2 fire restrictions. We all turned in relatively early because it was cold out.

    Friday, June 1st
    Our day two started with a solid climb up to the mesa above. Along the way Chumley and I saw a wolf roughly a half mile away. We questioned if it was a coyote but I saw it again 15 minutes later and it was way too big to be a coyote. We continued on and took a break just below Beatty's Cabin. During the break, Chumley and I hiked up to it. There are a few cabins and they are in great condition. It appears the forest services uses these.

    We continued hike and gained elevation. We eventually selected a campsite in a drainage. Water was close by and our camp was comfortable. We settled in for the evening and it was warmer than our first night. We stayed up a bit later but were in bed by 10pm.

    Saturday, June 2nd
    Day three started with another solid climb. We were at high elevation of roughly 11k ft. With much effort we reached the Skyline Trail and then started our Traverse. We took a short break by Truchas Lake. From there we continued for our third night's camp. Chumley detoured to Truchas Peak while Kyle and I headed for the lake. Once there I made a loop around the lake and then picked a campsite by the trail. Chumley showed up a bit later and we settled in for another night. Chumley said some nasty weather was going to move in the next day so we decided to bail the next day.

    Sunday, June 3rd
    We woke early on Sunday and started packing up. It was an overcast day and it looked like rain could fall any second. We quickly packed up and the weather cooperated. Once packed, we started our return to the trailhead. The going was very easy as it was all downhill. We arrived back to the trailhead and then packed up and headed for Santa Fe where we grabbed lunch.

    Final Thoughts
    This was a great hike in an amazing area! I'd really like to return another time and see more of the wilderness. There is a lot to explore out there. Thanks Chumley for planning and thanks for driving!

    Hamilton Mesa Trail #249
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pecos Wilderness
    I had set my eye on backpacking in the Sangre de Cristos a while ago, and decided to do some research and try to find a good mix of things to see. The bonus of this area for me is that it's national forest, doesn't require permits, and allows dogs! After gathering a bunch of data, I finalized a 5-day, 4-night hike that covered 36 miles with about 10 more miles of side hikes.

    On our first night, we re-evaluated the plan and decided to cut it one day shorter. This required a revision to the route and some trails we didn't have mapped out, but it all turned out great in the end, with the exception of missing out on visiting Pecos Falls.

    Day 1 - 10 miles, 1000 feet, 2400aeg
    We started from Jack's Creek TH and took the Hamilton Mesa Trail #249 toward Iron Gate Campground. The trail drops 500 feet and then parallels the Pecos River before climbing 1000 feet to the campground at 4 miles. From there we took Mora Flats Trail #250 down toward Mora Flats at about the 8 mile mark. There's a couple of great campsites here along the Rio Mora. Next we headed upstream on Rio Valdez Trail #224 to its intersection with Bob Grounds Trail #270, where we set up camp for the night at a great site a short distance upstream.

    Day 2 - 9 miles, 1200 feet, 3000aeg

    The day started with a moderate 500 foot climb along the Bob Grounds Trail. The trail climbs up onto Hamilton Mesa, and the upper part is on open grassy slopes where the tread is difficult to find in spots. This area featured my first wolf sighting, though at a quarter mile distance, which is probably just about how far away I'd prefer to be! The next 2+ miles led down to the Pecos River. This stretch of trail has not been maintained in a while and there were several thickets of deadfall that really slowed us down. We took a break at the river, before a quick side trip up to Beatty's Cabin. There are actually 3 cabins and they are nicely appointed and get regular use. There's even running water!

    We headed upstream on Beatty's Trail #25 for a mile before turning onto Chimayosos Trail #246, which parallels the scenic Rito de los Chimayosos. This was an unplanned route based on our revised itinerary so we didn't really know where we would camp. We set our minds on a spot along the creek near the 11,000 foot contour and the junction with the Jack's Creek Trail. We were a bit disappointed with the options here, but didn't want to push on any further. There was running water, and enough flat ground for us to make a camp work. So we did!

    Day 3 - 8 miles, 1200 feet, 2300aeg
    Our morning began with a 1000 foot climb over 1.5 miles to the Skyline Trail. From there it was a mile west to the beautiful alpine Truchas Lakes, set 1500 feet below the crest of the Sangre de Cristos. We took a break here, and I was a little disappointed that our revised plan made this no longer one of our camping nights. It would be a fantastic place to spend a couple of nights! But a pair of backpackers at the lake informed us that the night before had been extremely windy, so perhaps we lucked out after all.

    Skyline #251 heads south along the slopes of Truchas Peak for about 2.5 miles before emerging from the forest and heading up along the exposed grassy Trailriders Wall. The next two miles were some of the most scenic of the trip, as the Skyline Trail flirted with 12,000 feet and views in all directions were spectacular. (Side note, this is the only place on the entire trip that there was any hope of cell service at all.) The next mile drops about 500 feet to a scenic lake at the foot of East Pecos Baldy where we would make our camp for the night.

    Day 4 - 7 miles, -2700 feet, 150aeg
    The weather forecast had always called for a chance of showers on Sunday, so we were all prepared for that possibility. However, on Saturday when I had gotten cell service, I checked for an update and was not particularly pleased by the new information. Words including "severe storms" "damaging hail" "high wind" "lightning" and "possibly a tornado" were not the kinds of things I like to read about when I'm backpacking in the wilderness above 11,000 feet on the crest of a major mountain range.

    So we decided to skip any side hikes and get off the mountain early in the day. Even that caught us off guard as we awoke to light drizzle. It was actually quite pleasant in retrospect. These mountains really need the rain, so a chilly, foggy, drizzly morning was actually nice. It made for a great hike out too, with gray skies contrasting the bright greens of the newly dampened trees around us.

    We headed down on Jacks Creek Trail again, before meeting up with the lower portion of Beatty's Trail #25 which took us back to the trailhead and completed the loop. We finished on the horse trail rather than the hiking trail, which is about half a mile longer. Thunder rumbled, the rain picked up a bit, and we were on a mission to be done. Back in the truck by 11am!

    With the trip cut a day short, we went into Santa Fe for a good lunch before heading back toward Arizona with plans to stop for the night along the way. During the drive we encountered that weather we didn't want to be on the mountain for, and I can unequivocally say we made the right decision! It was some of the heaviest rain and hail I have ever driven through, and only the second time I have ever stopped driving and taken refuge under a gas station canopy.

    Final Thoughts
    I really enjoyed this area and would go back in a heartbeat. There are a whole bunch of trails and beautiful streams, lakes, and amazing mountain peaks. All this and it's only about 8 hours of driving from the valley. I'd like to go back in the fall as the aspens here would add an extra touch of perfection to this place. Top 10!

    Note: my mileage stats include extras not part of the base mileages listed above.

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    page created by chumley on Jan 16 2018 11:19 pm
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