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Overview: Redstone Park is a tiny ponderosa park at the bottom of Whitewater Canyon, in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness. Lush forest, red rock, connecting trails, and a perennial creek make Redstone Park an attractive destination. Accessible by several different routes, this hike to Redstone Park follows the northern section of the Redstone Trail #206.
Hike: From the Redstone Trailhead, the Redstone Trail #206 crosses a meadow along Silver Creek, then makes a short switchback climb through fir and aspen to a saddle overlooking Whitewater Canyon at 0.5 miles. The trail turns east at the saddle, contouring high along the north slope of Whitewater Canyon, its narrow footpath barely clinging to the steep topography. Frequent openings in the tree cover allow for views of the vast Whitewater Creek drainage and surrounding peaks.
Reaching the west slope of Willow Mountain, the Redstone Trail makes a brief and very steep descent, via some oddly placed switchbacks, before leveling out once again in a lush fir and aspen forest. The trail then skirts the west slope of Willow Mountain, contouring around several small, steep walled bowls. Oddly sculpted formations of volcanic rock erupt from the mountainside on this stretch.
Four and a half miles in, the Redstone Trail finally begins its descent to the bottom of Whitewater Canyon. Steep and wonderfully shaded switchbacks take the trail down nearly 700 feet within half of a mile.
Just before reaching the bottom of the canyon, Whitewater Creek becomes audible, as it splashes over polished red volcanic rock in the narrow confines of the canyon. The Redstone Trail arrives at a signed junction with the Whitewater Creek Trail #207 at 5 miles, along the north side of the creek. Redstone Park, this hike's destination, lies only a few hundred feet downstream, along the route of the Whitewater Creek Trail. Barely 100 feet long, the park is much smaller than one would guess, but it is beautiful nonetheless. Enormous ponderosa pines shade a perfect creekside campsite here, while a few other small campsites can be found nearby.
While Redstone Park makes a fine stopping point, one can continue downstream along the shared route of the Whitewater Creek and Redstone Trails to the Catwalk, or Spruce Creek Saddle, respectively. Or continue upstream from Redstone Park along the very primitive upper section of the Whitewater Creek Trail, which takes one to Hummingbird Saddle, on the north side of Whitewater Baldy.
Enjoy, and beware of Redstone Park's prolific poison ivy.
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