After a couple weeks in Ruidoso, we moved down the highway to Cloudcroft, NM. Our boondocking spot is around 8800′ in the trees. Luckily, it’s still warm in the days and decent at night, though fall is definitely here. Our first ride was on what the locals call the High Altitude Race Course and then we added on a loop of Bailey Canyon to see the Trestles in Mexican Canyon. Our ride was around 19 miles with 2211′ of climbing. For some reason Ride with GPS has a real difficult problem maintaining a gps signal everywhere we have been in New Mexico so where we might zig and zag on trails, it sometimes just draws a straight line. Oh well.
From camp we started down the canyon and turned left onto the Bailey Canyon Trail. This part was all downhill into the canyon through meadows and forest. At the end we turned left and headed up the sustained climb on forest road 206C. It didn’t last very long and then we turned right on some singletrack. I liked this section as it was rocky and swoopy through the forest. When we reached town we altered from the race course and instead, went to see the Mexican Canyon Trestle.
In 1899 the rail line was build to open up logging areas in the Sacramento Mts above Alamogordo. The new railroad wound around steep mountain slopes for 32 miles supported by 58 major timber trestles. The Mexican Canyon Trestle is 323 feet long and the height of a six story building. The line rose to an elevation of 8700′, the highest altitude in the world at that time. It was very dangerous. Engines often ran wild down the steep grades, jumping tracks and plunging into the canyon below. The line also carried passengers to the resort town of Cloudcroft. Hell no, after seeing some of the trestles and pictures of how it looked back then, I would never ride it.
The added on Rail to Trail loop we rode was beautiful. In some sections it goes through a nice shady tree covered area and at other times you’re high up on the side of the mountain in full sun. Sometimes it’s a wider gravel trail and sometimes it’s singletrack. Of course we saw nobody. My only gripe was I had to carry my bike up three flights of stairs to get up to the pedestrian bridge that crosses above the highway. Poor me.
After completing the trestle loop, we rode back through town to catch the singletrack up and over to the start. This section winds past a neighborhood and then over the ridge on a rocky trail that dumps back into the start. We were startled by a herd of elk, wild horses and some turkeys.