Thursday, October 25, 2001
Sedgwick a Primer for Zunis
Mount Sedgwick is probably the easiest peak you will ever bag. Both the elevation and the hiking distance can be as little as you want because a road goes all the way to the top.
HIGHLIGHTS: Easily accessible, greener and cooler than Albuquerque, a mellow getaway
LOCATION: In the Zuni Mountains, west of Grants and south of Thoreau
ROUND-TRIP DISTANCE: 5 to 10 miles
STARTING ELEVATION: 8,818 feet
HIGH POINT: 9,256 feet
BEST SEASONS: Spring, fall
MAPS: Mount Sedgwick USGS 7.5-minute quadrangle
SIDETRIPS: The best sidetrip here is the Zuni Mountains themselves. From Post Office Flat, you can Follow FR 548 to the decaying log cabins of Copperton (you will need a map to find them), another copper camp.
Continuing farther brings you to FR 50, which parallels Oso Ridge, the backbone of the Zunis, from N.M. 53 to McGaffey. Heading southeast on FR 50 brings you through a verdant valley to the abandoned logging camp of Cold Springs.
But if you hike to the summit, you experience views and a sense of "topping out" appropriate to a much higher range. East across the valley of the Rio San Jose is Mount Taylor, seldom displayed so spectacularly, while to the south are the sandstone bluffs of El Malpais National Monument.
And en route you will have become better acquainted with the Zunis. You will be pleasantly surprised.
The hiking described here is entirely on dirt forest roads. There are no hiking-only trails in the Zunis; but the extensive forest roads are seldom traveled, and during the week even the larger roads have little traffic, except during hunting season.
The campground at Ojo Redondo is a good place to begin this hike. From Grants, drive west 11 miles through Zuni Canyon on Forest Road 49. At 10 miles is a lava flat, site of the logging settlement at Malpais Spring. From here it's another mile to where Forest Road 480 branches north. Follow this 10 miles to the campground.
Ojo Redondo also can be reached via FR 180, beginning just east of Bluewater, or from Bluewater Lake via FR 178.
Leaving your car at the campground, walk down the road a quarter-mile to FR 411. Follow this 1.8 miles to the junction with FR 504. Stay on FR 411 to the top of Sedgwick a fairly steep seven-tenths of a mile.
You can return as you came, but if time and energy allow, you can make a scenic and interesting loop by returning to FR 504 and following it down a pleasant, green valley to the site of the copper-mining camp of Diener. Not much is there anymore, but you can find colorful ore fragments.
Here FR 504 meets FR 178. You follow this uphill 2 miles to Post Office Flat and FR 480. Take FR 480 about 3 miles through another, even greener and more beautiful valley back to Ojo Redondo.