Up, Down and Around...
The Rim trail has undergone numerous progressions and alterations since it's development. A section of the trail has now been designated a National Recreational Trail under the 1968 National Trails System Act, the first in New Mexico. The trailhead designation is for this section of trail, which begins outside of Cloudcroft at the entrance for the Slide Group Camping area, and terminates 14 miles later in Atkinson Meadows.
The Rim trail generally follows the upper ridge line of the Sacramento mountains, between 8500' and 9500', which also follows closely to the roadway for the Scenic drive of Sunspot Hiway (NM6563). This means that often the trail is not far from the road (100'), which provides numerous opportunities to access or exit the trail. This is a nice feature, especially for mountain bike riders who tire of the up/down, often deadfall obscured trail... they can always opt for the paved road.
There are exceptions, and the route does get away from the roadway, but never for very long, and even then there will be numerous connections to forest roads that could lead back out to the paved hiway. Major intersections include Karr Canyon at around trail mile post 10, Alamo Peak road at trail mile post 11, and Atkinson meadows at the end of the trail at trail mp 14.
I find the best use for the this portion of the Rim trail is as a connector... creating loops with the various trails dropping down from the rim in the numerous drainages, particularly trail #109 (Alamo Canyon) connecting to either Atkinson Canyon trail (#111) or Pipeline trail (#110)... driving out to access the trail at either Karr, Alamo or Ackinson Canyon roads. Some folks really enjoy the mountain biking on this hilly portion.
The difficulty noted is for the accumulated elevation gain for the full length hike... probably averaging only 150' to 200' per mile, but it adds up over that much mileage.
If you are staying in Cloudcroft and desire a nice, longer outing T105 may be accessed directly from the Village by making your way to the end of Curlew Place, then to the deadend of Corona (past the Gray Townhomes)... the trail will take you out NM 130, cutting through a tunnel underpass, then within a mile connecting with the old formal trailhead for the National Rec trail... very nice access for the mountain biking from town.
Trail #105 extends well beyond the terminus of the National Recreation Trail section, but is best broken down into this portion, typically called the upper trail... and the section of trail that includes the Solar Observatory at Sunspot and beyond... normally considered the lower section...
You will also note if you drive along the Sunspot Hiway (NM6563) that there are a variety of gate accesses that provide parking and entry to the trail. Pick your spot and enjoy the scenery. Though for the most part overgrown and closed in, there are a few long views down to the Tularosa Basin and the broad expanse of white sand down in the Monument. Often, you would need to leave the trail and hike a few hundred feet or yards to be able to see beyond the dense tree cover.
It is a nice trail... no a great trail. Does have the advantage of very little use. You will likely have it all to yourself!
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.