Day Hike in the Organ Mountains
Once a year, my husband and I make a trip out to New Mexico to visit my step-daughter and her husband for a few days. We all love hiking, so it is inevitable that we will be taking a hike somewhere new each year, and what better place to hike but in the mountains! This year we hiked in the Organ Mountains, which actually overlook their home. I find it fascinating every time I am there that it feels like I can just walk to these mountains, since they look so close. We have to drive there, which is about 10 miles away. This is close for Las Cruces, since every other place we have gone is normally 1-2 hours away in any direction.
The hike they chose for us this time, Pine Tree Trail, was on the "green" side of the mountains. This is the side of the mountains that stays a little cooler and has more rainfall making it a little greener part of the desert. It is also mostly a dirt path, so Bentley, my step-daughter's boxer, was able to join us for the hike.
The hike itself is about a 4.3 mile loop. Of course the first part of the hike was completely an ascent climbing up the mountain side. Pine trees, cacti, and junipers make up the greenery along the trail. I have a fondness for old dead trees still standing tall, in which there is an abundance on this trail.
About an hour into the trail, we could hear water trickling, which is rare in the desert. The creek was streaming down the mountainside as we carefully stepped over the trickling waters. Once we were most of the way up on the trail, I took a moment to look up and around. Wow. The pictures do not do this view justice. I had climbed so far while being careful to watch my footing that I had no idea what I had been missing until that moment when I looked up and all around me. The desert goes on until it reaches the foot of the next mountain range on every side. Complete vastness and complete flatness for miles. The shapes of the clouds were casting a perfect shadow on the miles of desert.
The picture below is my husband and his daughter around the highest point we climbed.
Throughout the entire hike, we could see sunshine over much of the desert, but up on the mountain, the clouds just lingered giving us no added warmth. I had started out with shorts and a short-sleeved shirt but quickly changed into pants and long sleeves before we left on our trek. As we climbed higher up the mountain, the wind gusts got a little stronger making the air a little cooler.
Along the way, we saw many other hikers enjoying the trail and taking photographs. It seems to be a busy trail being so close to Las Cruces. Once we began our descent down the mountain, traffic began to pick up more, probably as it became later in the day and people were getting started.
The trail, according to my Garmin, took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete and we seemed to be hiking at a decent pace. My Garmin measured the hike to be 4.31 miles, but I had forgotten to start it at one point and we also took a slight detour off the trail, so the trail itself is somewhere close to that.
I always look forward to visiting my step-daughter and her husband in New Mexico every year, and they always make sure we have a new beautiful place to go hiking at least one day while we are there.
I have loved hiking since I was a kid but had never done much hiking outside of Indiana besides the Smoky Mountains, so it is always a joy to go to a completely different environment and see how different nature can be in different areas.