Thursday, June 14th., was my first hike into the San Pedro Parks Wilderness (SPPW), although I did some snowshoeing near there this past winter. The SPPW is where I will make my first backpacking trip, planned for next week, so I was really looking forward to this hike.

The SPPW is located ENE of Cuba, New Mexico. Since I plan to backpack into the SPPW, a topo map was in order. The SPPW can require up to six USGS quadrangles in order to get a feel for the entire area, those quads being: Regina, Gallina, Arroyo del Agua, Cuba, Nacimiento Peak, and Jarosa. Since buying six topo maps was out of the question, I bought one topo map covering the area I am interested in from MyTopo.com.

I referred to this hike as a loop, but I guess you could say it was more like a semi-loop or open loop. Point being, we started the hike at the Penas Negras Trail Head and finished at the Palomas Trail Head. Those two trail heads are about four miles apart, and since no one wanted to make the four mile hike back to the fist trail head after hiking more than 7 miles, a shuttle was needed.  So we took two vehicles. The ASCHG van dropped all the hikers off at the first trail head, the hike leader, who kindly drove his own SUV, then followed the van to the second trail head, where it was left, and then the hike leader and the van driver drove back to the first trail head.

Keep in mind, the people who lead the hikes and drive the vans for the ASCHG are all volunteers. None of them are paid. None of them are reimbursed for any personal expenses. They do it all gratis. I continue to be impressed with the fine group of people who make these hikes possible for the members of the ASCHG.

Once we got started, there was one, fairly steep climb at the beginning of the hike that was 0.8 miles long, with an elevation gain of 671 feet, which is a 14.5% grade climb. After that, it was mostly flat or downhill. We started at the Penas Negras Trail Head and hiked 4.2 miles along the Penas Negras Trail to its intersection with the Perchas Trail. Then hiked 2.1 miles down the Perchas Trail, following very near the Rito de las Perchas stream as it wound its way down the gently sloping canyon until we reached its intersection with the Palomas Trail. Then hiked 1.3 miles down the Palomas Trail to our waiting van and the final shuttle to retrieve the hike leader’s SUV.

Total length of the hike was 7.6 miles and it took a little over five hours to complete, including stops. My GPS showed we started at 9,090 feet elevation and finished at 9,281 feet. The highest point reached was 10,090 feet and we did 1,187 feet of total vertical climbing.

As you will see in the pics, this area of the SPPW is beautiful with some awesome views. Heavy tree cover, open meadows, spectacular tree lines at the edge of the meadows, downed trees everywhere, many blocking the trail (see videos), clear mountain streams, and elk. Yes, I finally saw live critters that had more than two legs (okay, there were a lot of cows, too)! You had to have quick eyes, though, because as soon as the elk realized we were there, they were gone so fast I couldn’t even get a picture of them. 😦 Oh, and that plant you will see in the pics is called Skunk Cabbage (no, it doesn’t smell like a skunk) and, as you will see, we hiked through a lot of Skunk Cabbage!

If the SPPW area I will be backpacking into for a 3-day, 2-night stay is as beautiful as this area, I am going to be a happy camper — literally! 😉

Click here for my San Pedro Parks Wilderness backpacking trip

I shot three video clips and took a number of pics. There is some strange noise in the videos; not sure what caused that. Check them out, below. If you wish to leave a comment, there is a place to do so at the bottom of the page.

Here are my hiking companions for this trip:

There were numerous fallen trees blocking the trail and everyone had their own technique for getting past them.

Sometimes they climbed over them:

Sometimes they crawled under them:

Here are some pics to give you an idea of the beauty we encountered all along the hike. Click on the first pic to start the manual slide show:

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