June 17, 1999
Highlights: Moderate hike in unpeopled quiet. Top views are spectacular. Lush aspen spruce. Small streams and waterfalls. Location: I-40 south on N.M. 337. Take N.M. 55 west through the town of Manzano, approximately 2 miles to Forest Road 253 -- road is poorly marked. Take FR 253 to the intersection of FR 422 and FR 235 to the Red Canyon Campground and horse camp. Water / restrooms available there, as well as a forest ranger station. They will have other suggestions for your day's outing, should you want to change plans or explore on other days. Stay on 235 to the trailhead. ... The Hike: 189 Spruce Trail to top -- it is a gentler climb than Red Canyon Trail. Take 170 Crest Trail. Climb 10,003 Gallo Peak a short go. Return by Trail 89, Red Canyon Trail. Round-trip distance: 7.5 miles Difficulty: 7.5 miles High point: Gallo Peak 10,003 feet, after an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. Maps: Available at the Red Canyon Campground forest ranger station Printable map
Red Canyon / Spruce Spring
Trail thoughts ... Pocketfuls of blessed quiet spilling over everything. A gentle place to be with old friends who know all your secrets. Butterflies flitter round clear pools.
A little bit of history:
The range lies on a bed of Precambrian rock, the oldest on earth.
Meaning "apple tree," the Manzano Mountains are an extension of the Sandia Fault, whose highest point, Manzano Peak, is 10,098 feet. It is one of the oldest place names in New Mexico history, being cited by Chamuscado in 1581, and Oñate in 1598. Old lore has it that the apple trees were planted by Spanish settlers, before Apache raids of the late 1600s drove them out. When things settled down, the area was petitioned for by Manuel Sanchez in 1834. Ore tailings have been found. Stories tell of Indians blocking and hiding, forever, entrances to gold and silver mines, in the southern extremity of the Manzanos, worked by the Spanish settlers.
Quiet and unassuming, the Manzanos offer moderate, unpeopled, five- to eight-mile round-trip hikes, where the tops of the peaks maintain a long, gentle trail at around 9,000 to 10,000 feet. The mountains are also kinder, offering good hiking any time of year. The 36,970-acre wilderness has almost perfect views west to Mount Taylor, north to the Sangre de Cristos and south to the San Mateos and Sierra Blanca.
Isabel Bearman Bucher