First off, I cannot say enough good things about this hike. It is off the beaten path and not on the radar of most people I’m sure, but should be. Start to finish this hike along/through/across Mineral Creek is fabulous. This can be an out and back hike, or a through hike if you are backpacking. We did an out and back and spent a few hours in awe.
On our way to the hike we stopped at Cooney’s Tomb. Sgt. James Cooney, while serving in the 8th U.S. Calvary stationed at Fort Bayard, discovered a mineral deposit in this canyon. He kept his find a secret until he mustered out of the army in 1876.
By 1880 he had developed a profitable silver and gold mine. In April 1880 he and another miner rode to Alma to warn the settlers in the valley of the danger of an Indian attack. Returning to the mine, the two were killed by Indians near this site. His brother and fellow miners interred him in a giant boulder. Two of his brother’s children are also buried in the rock “crypt”.
Mineral Creek Trail
Now for the hike. I really liked this hike because almost from the start it was fascinating. The trail crosses the creek and enters the canyon not far from the parking lot. We were the only car there through we would see a through hiker later in the day and two older gentlemen that were just heading out and back to the first creek crossing.
The narrow, towering canyon has interesting rock formations everywhere and often we had to stop and just gaze up. It isn’t fast hiking because there is so much to see and the water in the creek was a bit high in places so finding footing and ways through took some work. We should have brought our hiking poles but instead we found some wood staffs to suffice.
I spotted a blue belly lizard sunny himself on a tree branch – check out the picture of him below. Fun fact, if threatened, the lizard can completely detach the tail from its body. The tail will eventually grow again about three to five weeks later, but it may have a different length and color pattern than the old one.
On a sad note, after spotting a bunch of stakes along the trail I went back and did some research. Apparently they are new mining claims. Summa Silver’s plans to redevelop silver mines near Mogollon, which might also impact Mineral Creek. https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2022/09/20/advocates-say-new-mining-claim-near-mogollon-threatens-ecosystem-and-sacred-sites/
Eventually the trail started getting feint and we went a bit further before turning around. Even though it was a warm day, my feet were freezing by the time we reached the start. There are sooooo many water crossings this time of year.