Donkeys in the Mist
this is a long, somewhat strenuous, but excellent hike through a variety of terrain and scenery. the trail is well marked, except that the signs don't give trail numbers. I did it in 2 and a half days and was rushed. there are many options for camping and i didn't go through the west fork and would of liked to if i had more time. if you have the time, take it. the area is nice. i saw elk, deer, a fox, two skunks, an owl and lots of birds and owls.
i started by spending the night at willow creek campground, the campground was filled with fisherman, elk hunters and hikers. there were donkeys wandering around that were used by the hunters to carry out their circus tents. i watched one donkey get loaded to the max because the day before it had kicked someone's horse. it is suggested to get an early start on this hike so you can get over to the west fork to camp before dark. i went about 17 miles to the other side of west fork to camp the first night. there are other options if you don't want to do that many miles. were i camped was a fern-filled field with log-poles standing. i saw about 8 deer in this area and the night was one of the most quiet night i have had camping, no wind, sounds... nothing. the trail to this spot was pretty flat or down hill. the traveling was easy. along the trail at west fork corral i ran to some hunters from Texas. they were great, they offered me a pancake, but i declined because i was already carrying enough food and needed to eat it to lighten my pack. they did ask me if i had seen a hippy guy out there with tattoos. apparently this guy was hiking all the peaks around there in flip flops and only a loin cloth.
the next day started with the climb to mogollon baldy. this was a climb that was very moderate, but lasted about 5 miles. the end was getting hard due to elevation and length. the trail is pretty shaded and open. towards the top you go through snow park, which is one of my favorite places - an open field on a ridge, a need to see. then i made the peak. the look out up there was locked which was a bummer because it had been raining and the trail turned into a river so i was wet. really wet. and the sleat had started and was pelting me pretty good. one good thing was the cabin had a porch on it and i hung out under it for and hour to rest and dry off. on the way down i ran into a group of 4 and a single person, other than that that is all that i saw for the weekend. the trail off the baldy is along the edge of a ridge and has great views the whole way. when the views do stop you enter a area with aspen groves that are thick and pretty. that night i stayed at hummingbird saddle. a popular place to camp because it is an easy hike from the sandy point trail. while i was there i hiked to the top of the hill near the saddle. it had nice views at the top and a pretty good spot to watch the sun set. the spring is down hill about 1000 ft.
on the final stretch the trail is mostly downhill. it goes through a burned area that is patrolled by ravens, it seemed like they escorted me through the area from above. this last 8 miles from hummingbird saddle goes real fast. when i final saw my car at willow creek from above i was pretty excited, it was a nice hike and very satisfying to finish.
the trail: go on trail 151 to iron creek. turn down turkey feather pass towards west fork corral. go down to iron creek and follow it down stream to cub mesa, get water and cross creek. start going up hill on trail 152 towards mogollon baldy. another option here would be to go down west fork through the creek for some swimming and meet up with 152 at cub mesa and white creek. trail 152 will take you over mogollon baldy to trail 182, sandy point trail, follow it past west fork saddle to hummingbird saddle where you meet up with trail 172, the white water trail. this takes you back to trail 151 and will connect the loop. willow creek campground is 30 miles back on road 159 from glenwood. the road is curvy and slow. it is paved till mogollon, where there is a town and museum. the rest of the road is dirt, but i drove a low profile car all the way with no problem. water reliable in west fork, white creek and springs, ordinarily springs are at 24.1 miles, 28 miles (west fork saddle) 28.34 (little hobo), and hummingbird saddle.
i used the book 50 hikes in new mexico by harry evans for information, trail #43 in the book.
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.