September 10, 1998
Highlights: A lushly vegetated hike on which to enjoy solitude and the Manzano Mountain Wilderness Location: The southeastern Manzano Mountains Round-trip distance: 10 miles Difficulty: Strenuous (because of length) Elevation: 8,000-10,000 feet Maps: Cibola National Forest Manzano Mountain Wilderness Printable map
Red Canyon / Ox Canyon Loop
Shady, cool, with enough scenery and variety to be interesting -- that's the appeal of this southern Manzano Mountains loop hike.
The hike begins at the recently rebuilt U.S. Forest Service Red Canyon Campground, reached by paved road and then good dirt from the village of Manzano on N.M. 55. The Box Spring Trail, No. 99 (not shown on the wilderness map but easy to find and follow), heads south about 2.5 miles from the campground, making a jog on a dirt road before linking up with the Ox Canyon Trail, No. 190.
This goes up the canyon bottom and then up its sides until after 3 miles from the Box Spring Trail junction it joins the Crest Trail, No. 170, near lush, rolling meadows with good camping possibilities. A spring is nearby.
By following the Crest Trail north 1.5 miles, you reach the Red Canyon Trail, also in a pleasant grassy meadow. This leads downhill along the tiny creek 3 miles to the campground, passing interesting rock formations and two miniature waterfalls.
The total distance may seem long, but the trail gradients are gentle, and if you break at the trail junctions the miles will go easily.