Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fourth of July Canyon Hike


I just realized the other day that I never posted about my gloriously gorgeous Autumn hike with my daughter, Jen, and friend Kendra, back in October.


We decided to hike in the Manzano Mountains on trails located just 40 minutes from my house.

Fourth of July Canyon is always a surprise to many visitors who can’t believe this amount of colorful leaf color is located in New Mexico and not New England.


But New Mexico is a very diverse state geographically and is more than just brown desert. So much more!


These are not my GPS maps, because I forgot to bring mine for the hike. But these give an idea of the route we took, although our route was a little longer because we added 2 extra trails for a total mileage of 7 miles hiked(!), and an elevation gain of over 1,000ft (!):

GPS Track Map of 4th of July Canyon Trail and Cerro Blanca Trail

GPS Track Map and Trip Report of Fourth of July Canyon Trail


This is a page from my Hiking New Mexico book.


We decided to make a loop and hike up Fourth of July Canyon Trail (#173) from the campground. We then turned right and took a side trip up along the Manzano Crest Trail (#170), and then we descended down to Cerro Blanco Trail (#79), following it until the trail ended at Forest Rd 55. And then we hiked along Forest Rd 55 (Tajique Canyon) returning to Fourth of July Campground.


But first we explored the Crimson Maple Trail (1/2 mile) and the Spring Loop Trail (1/4 mile) which both connected to the Fourth of July Canyon Trail.


Jen liked this bent tree and thought it made a fine bench.


I was very grateful that Kendra took lots of photos, too, including some photos of me and my daughter together.


The leaf colors were so vibrant it felt magical to be surrounded by so much beauty. We had a lot of fun hiking together.



We stopped for a snack break…..



I had bought Jen some Whoppers and Kendra shared some of her watermelon with her. Jen ate them together and was excited about creating a new recipe: Whoppermelons!


And then we continued on down the Spring Loop Trail.



And soon we came to the trail junction with Fourth of July Canyon….


We passed through the hiker stile, installed to keep livestock out of the campground.


I have a special affection for tree tunnels. And I can’t wait to ride Apache here next Autumn!


Kendra and I asked Jen to take a photo of us. I think she did a pretty nice job, don’t you?


Hiking up into Fourth of July Canyon…lots of vibrant color all around us.


We’re heading up on the Fourth of July Trail towards Cerro Blanco Trail. The Spur Trail leads towards the Equestrian Campground Trailhead and the Albuquerque Trail is a popular equestrian trail (you can see it on the map I posted above).


Looking back on the trail we just hiked up, which leads back towards the Fourth of July Campground.


Kendra thought it would be fun to decorate the sign with my hat and trekking poles….


Hiking with Kendra is fun!


Jen may not be smiling, but she was really enjoying herself. She loves to be outdoors and enjoys camping and hiking.


Beside the trail is a little creek that gurgles with the water from the Springs up above the canyon.


Everything is so green, lush and moist up here. 


When we ride through here it will be good to have a short horse!


Kendra captured my euphoric mood while surrounded by so much natural beauty.


Dobbie thoroughly enjoyed exploring the canyon and climbing on rocks and logs.


We were all impressed by the tall Ponderosas along the trail. This one will probably fall in a year or two.


We stopped for lunch beside the livestock water tank at the top of the canyon and enjoyed listening to the water pouring from the Spring, into the tank.


Nature’s Autumn Art



Playing Hide and Seek…….



Kendra and I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful leaf color. We stopped often to take photos.


Happy to be outdoors hiking in nature’s splendor!



Jen made it a point to climb most of the boulders beside the trail.


Boulders make great places to sit and rest, too.


We’re turning right and hiking up to the Manzano Mountains Crest on the Crest Trail.


We decided to follow the Stock By-Pass Detour. Good thing, too as the main trail has quite an impressive set of boulder steps, which I’ll share a photo of in my next post.


The Stock By-Pass Trail was absolutely gorgeous and covered in a cacophony of amazing colors!


We were so thrilled about the beautiful carpet of colorful leaves at our feet that we decided to stop and play for a while!


                                             Beautiful colors!!!


We’re following the Crest Trail to the right towards the Isleta Indian Reservation….


We made it to the Crest!!! Guadalupe Peak is in the distance and Mosca Peak is right behind us. We’re standing at 9,085 feet elevation!


Kendra is in love with these high places and enjoying the beauty all around us.


Mosca Peak! Albuquerque Trail, the equestrian trail, circles around behind Mosca Peak. The hill is covered in golden Shrub Oaks.


The views out towards the East are of the Estancia Valley and the Salt Mission Trail and Salt Flats.


The vistas towards the northwest are of Isleta Pueblo, Los Lunas and Albuquerque (beyond that ridge)


It was a little hazy this day, but the views towards the southwest are of the Manzano Mountain foothills.


We had the Crest to ourselves, and once we climbed out of Fourth of July Canyon we only saw two other hikers. Dobbie Girl enjoyed being off leash and checking out the views from a boulder.



It was exhilarating to be up so high. It felt like we were flying with eagles……..



Coming up next: Cerro Blanco Trail ~ The Hike Down


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'll have to see what I'm doing next fall and plan a hiking trip out there. The most beautiful place I've ever seen in the fall was the mountains outside of Salt Lake City, and your pictures compare to that.

WishIHadAHorsey said...

Wow, wow, wow. Beautiful pictures, beautiful friends, beautiful daughter and beautiful day. I so enjoy your posts!

fernvalley01 said...

Such beautiful country and colors! I especially like the pics of you and Jenna together, beautiful gals both of you

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...


When I was not much older than Jen we hiked that trail and spent a very windy night camped at the top. Wish I could do it again.

Reddunappy said...

Oh my gosh!! The Colors!! Wow!!

Jenna is getting so big!!!

DesertHen said...

Wow! What a hike! The colors of fall are stunning! I love that Jen came up with "whoppermelons" they sound pretty darn good to me! =)

baystatebrumby said...

In this brutal cold snap we are having, these pictures are wonderful. I feel sun-warmed just looking at them.

KD said...

Just.... WOW!

Steve Brown said...

How did the ranch come to be known as Laughing Orca?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Here you go Steve (from the very first post I ever posted on this blog)