Drove over to hang out for a few days in the Magdalena Mountains and Socorro. First night I camped at Water Canyon Campground, followed by two nights in a motel in Socorro. I have camped there several times over the years, but this was my first time at the relocated campground. The former location was primo, but is now just for day use. The primary objective this trip was to drive up to see the new telescope up on Magdalena Ridge and visit the Langmuir Lightning Research Lab, which dates to 1963. I last was to the lightning lab back in 1993 and the last time I drove the road to the top was in 2003 to do the South to North Baldy hike. There is new construction going on up top associated with the observatory. Otherwise things are much the same as years ago, except the gate has been beefed up and remains locked pretty much all the time now. The gate is a short ways beyond the parking area for the North Baldy trail. Though you normally can't drive all the way to the lab anymore, walking in is allowed. You just don't want to be doing this during times when lightning research including balloon and rocket launches are happening (into active thunderstorms)!
After camping, I drove a short way to the Copper Canyon trailhead for the hike. This trail goes all the way up the canyon, heading in a south to southwest direction toward the Crest Trail near South Baldy. It starts out around 7000 feet and eventually reaches about 10,300 feet where it hits the crest. I went about 3 miles up, turning around at 9000 feet, just before reaching an old miner's cabin and fork in the trail (the real steep part starts there). Since it was a pretty hot day, I was glad to be hiking in the shaded canyon.
At the beginning of the hike, the trail skirts by some private property and old buildings and meadows associated with mining and ranching from days gone by. About 2 miles in you encounter periodic water in the canyon as it climbs toward the crest.
Following the hike I drove up the road to the locked gate by South Baldy to look around and take some photos. Thunderstorms were sparse today, but they finally started putting down some rain as I drove down the mountain. This is an awesome narrow road with fantastic views! It is well graded, but you should have high clearance (and preferably 4x4). Probably wouldn't be much fun during a downpour.
Once down, it was off to the motel in Socorro. I decided I would come back up the mountain Saturday morning on my way home to Tucson and walk the mile or so from the gate to the lightning lab, plus check out the new astronomy stuff. Also, I wanted to finally bag South Baldy Peak (10,783 ft), which is a short side trip off the Crest Trail.