August 19, 1999
Highlights: Hike through timber to an abandoned Forest Service fire watchtower with great viewing. Last half of the hike is down a valley with many wildflowers along a live stream and historic sites and ruins. Location: Accessed from the Glorieta Baptist Assembly, about 19 miles east of Santa Fe on I-25. Hikers must park in designated lot marked with a sign. A hiking map of the area is available at the entrance gate. Round-trip distance: Loop is 13 miles, more than half of the trip is downhill. Difficulty: Strenuous Elevation: 7,500-10,200 Cautions: Take plenty of water. The climb up Glorieta Baldy is steep.
Glorieta Baldy Trail
Glorieta Baldy, 10,200 feet high, is the southernmost peak higher than 10,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo range of north central New Mexico. It is a challenging hike through a heavy forest to the abandoned fire lookout tower at the summit. The trail down is a beautiful walk in Glorieta Canyon along a stream and by a ghost mine, sawmill, boarding house and other abandoned structures. Wildflowers abound.
The trailhead is at the Glorieta Baptist Assembly. There is a special marked parking lot for hikers, and the person at the entrance gate will give you a map and directions. Or if you arrive before the entrance gate is manned, take the first sharp right-hand turn and follow the road as it turns left to the designated parking area sign. From the parking lot, walk over a bridge and then to the right up a road past a small trailer park to the wooden gate where there is a sign-up sheet. The road goes north about a quarter mile until you reach a trail marker that shows the trail fork to Glorieta Baldy.
The trail is not difficult, going up to a ridge to the west until you reach the slope of the mountain where it becomes steeper. The last 11/2 miles and 1,000 vertical feet are a good hard climb. The top offers excellent views in all directions and is a good place for lunch.
The trip down is easier, although the trail in places is not clear. Walk down the road from the lookout tower to a Forest Service campground and then north along the road. About 1/4 mile down the road, look to the right off the road and you will see a trail that parallels the road. Go down to the trail and proceed north. The trail will eventually turn east, then south, down Glorieta Canyon.
This trail was abandoned for a number of years, but has recently been marked with cairns at critical points. The hike down the canyon is a delight. The stream tumbles down a broadening valley. You will pass remains of an old mine, a boarding house, sawmill, several cabins and two old cars that apparently died on the primitive road to the area. You will have to cross the stream several times.
The trail follows the remnants of the old road back to the trailhead. Total distance is about 13 miles. A good hiker can cover the distance in about seven hours. Of course, you don't have to climb Glorieta Baldy; you can take the right fork and just walk up the canyon.
David G. Jackson