NM Rails-to-Trails – Early Spring Hiking Trails

Looking for a good place to hike in early spring?  Just a few miles down the road from Cloudcroft, at lower elevations, hikers will find some outstanding rail-trails and milder temperatures.

New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association has built, and maintains, three rail-trails at elevations that usually enjoy moderate winters and “early spring”. They are the Salado Canyon Trestle Trail, the Bridal Veil Falls Trail, and the Grand View Trail. They all feature interpretive signs, benches, and shelters.

The 1.3 mile Grand View Trail has a shelter, a bench, and an interpretive sign located in the large bend that offers an unlimited view of the Tularosa Basin—the “Grand View”.

Map of Grand View, Salado Canyon Trestle, and Bridal Veil Falls Rail Trails

Grand View is  a fairly level trail located at about 6,200 feet above sea level. Access and parking are easiest at the lower entrance. To reach this trailhead from Highway 82, turn north at the High Rolls convenience store onto Cherry Blossom Lane, left on Cottage Row, and right on Fresnal Canyon Road.  The upper end of the trail is on the left at 0.5 miles, the  lower end on the left at 0.9 miles. Park at the lower end and climb a stile over a fence; when you reach the upper end of the trail return to your car by way of Fresnal Canyon Road. . Signs mark both entrances.

The Salado Canyon Trestle Trail and the Bridal Veil Falls Trail share the same trailhead. To reach it, take Highway 82 to High Rolls, turn north on Cherry Way, drive .3 miles to Cottage Row and turn left. Then drive .45 miles to Fresnal Canyon Road and turn right. Pass the Grand View Trail trailhead on your left, and continue .25 miles to the place where the high voltage transmission lines cross Fresnal Canyon Rd. Access to the trail head is by way of a gravel road that intersects Fresnal Canyon Rd. just below the transmission lines, on the right side of the road. A small parking area has room for about five vehicles.

Salado Canyon Trestle Trailhead on Fresnal Canyon Rd

Walk north on the gravel road until it intersects the old railroad bed. At this point there is a sign with arrows that direct the hiker left to the Salado Canyon Trestle, and right to Bridal Veil Falls.

The current Salado Canyon ”Trestle”  is actually a foot bridge built by hand, by NMRTA volunteers, on the ruins of the original trestle. It crosses Salado Canyon Creek. The easy trail on the railroad bed is .71 miles long; it ends where the railroad bed enters private property. The elevation is about 5,695 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls Frozen in winter

To visit Bridal Veil Falls, turn right at the sign mentioned above. The one mile hike to the forty-five foot high perennial falls, and the shelter adjacent to them, is mostly on the abandoned railroad bed. As you approach the “maze gate,” you can hear the sound of the falls.  Walking another .88 miles on the railroad bed will reveal interpretive signs, interesting geologic formations, and the sites of three trestles and Pinto water station.

Because both of these trails are near water, hikers will see sign and tracks of fox, coyote, deer and other mammals, as well as of lizards and rattlesnakes. Birders will enjoy abundant bird life in the area as well.

Plans are for the Salado Canyon Trail and the Bridal Veil Falls Trail to link up with the Grand View Trail.  We’re working on it.

NMRTA workdays are held on the third Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 Noon. You do not need to be a member to attend the workdays.  Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome. There’s something to do for everyone.  Just bring your own drinking water, work gloves, sun protection, and sturdy footwear. The Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest provides the tools.

The location of each workday is announced a week in advance. If you would like to receive these announcements via email, please send a message to nmrta@tularosa.net with the word, “Workday” in the subject line.

For more information, see our web site: www.nmrailstotrails.org.