|This photo, taken on another hiking day, shows the typical low rolling hills of the Southern portion of|
the Fort Bayard Trail System. To hike the Woodhaul Wagon Road we head up into the hills in the distance.
This excellent six mile hike started at the Fort Bayard Administrative Site Trailhead which is located on a dirt road a few miles beyond the Fort Bayard Historic Site. Our route was: Big Tree Trail, Woodhaul Wagon Rd Trail, with a short offshoot to Cameron Creek, a second offshoot to the Rut site, then return on Stevens Ranch Road.
Once we turned off the Big Tree Trail we started a gentle ascent into the hills following the Woodhaul Wagon Road. During the days of the Fort Bayard Military Reservation (starting in 1865), this road was used to transport wood from the Pinos Altos mountain range to the Fort by mule and oxen carts. Our goal was to see the wagon wheel ruts carved into rock over many years of heavy use.
|As we headed up hill the trees and brush became thick and the road more defined.|
After about a mile of gentle climbing, we came to an intersection and a gate. Taking the trail to the left we entered a lovely meadow bisected by a creek (Cameron Creek) where we saw several white tailed deer.
|A meadow at about 7,000 elevation, with more hills of the Gila National Forest surrounding it.|
|A shady glen just beginning to show spring green along barely flowing Cameron Creek.|
At this point the trail petered out and we headed back to the trail intersection and passed through the gate. Soon we saw a sign indicating the wagon wheel road continued up the hill to the left. After a short distance our persistence paid off and we were standing in the wagon wheel ruts!
|Countless wagon loads of wood were hauled over this route in the late 1800's, gouging ruts into the stone.|
|Hans walking down the wagon trail.|
|Here you can see how deep the ruts cut into the stone.|
We hiked a bit further up the road and took in the view to the South East.
|The light colored ridge in the distance is the Santa Rita Mine...|
the second largest open pit mine in the world.
One of the things that has surprised me the most about our stay in Silver City is the lack of spring flowers. In my naivety, I just assumed that spring flowers were the norm everywhere. Not so at 6,000 ft elevation and a semiarid climate! So I was shocked and happy to see this splash of color all by itself on the trail.
|One, single paintbrush plant!|
We made our way back to the trail intersection and headed on down Stevens Ranch Road; talking of the conflicts between the native inhabitants and the newcomers intent on taking over the land and the incredibly rough life (compared to ours) they must have lived back in the days when these roads were in use.
At one point we were being watched by a local:
|Back to the lowlands where we began.|
This was very a enjoyable hike through a variety of terrain. The Woodhaul Wagon Road actually is an 11.5 mile trail that connects to the Signal Peak trail system.