2016 Trail Clearing Report

2016 Trail Clearing Summary

Attached is a list of the trails we have cleared so far this year.  It has been a fantastic year.

Our last project was the 6 day pack trip into the Pryor Cabin area in the Gila Wilderness.  It was a really good trip.  Mickey Lemon and Cheryl Roth cooked some wonderful meals for us which always makes trips like that more enjoyable.  Even though we did a lot of work during this project, I am pretty sure no one came back lighter than when they went in.  A big thanks to Mickey and Cheryl.  Those that participated in the trip were Tim Wolcott, Rawlings Lemon, Dave Imler, Russ Imler and Mike Carr from the Forest Service.  I really appreciate everyone’s participation on this trip.  I have attached a picture of the biggest tree that we cut out.  We completed about 15 miles of clearing and removed a bunch of trees from the trails.  In addition, we had the opportunity to ride through some really nice country.  The part of the Gila Wilderness we worked in is really pretty and was even more beautiful as a result of the wild flowers in some of the areas.

I would also like to thank Dave and Russ Imler for going in with me before the trip to pack in horse feed. We packed in 520lbs of horse feed before we went in to do the work so that we could minimize the number of pack stock that were standing around.  I could not have done that without there help.

In addition to the above folks, several of which also contributed on other projects, I would like to thank Joan Bacon, Cindi deCapiteau, Donna Tillmann, Vicki Dowd, and Susan Austin for helping with other projects.

When we came out on Memorial Day weekend, there were lots of vehicles parked at the trailheads including some horse trailers. For me, it felt good knowing the many folks were enjoying there National Forest more because of the work we have accomplished this year.

Gerry Engel

6-6-2016-trail-report 2016-05-26-12-20-21-1

2014 Trail Project Reports

2014  Gila Chapter Back Country Horsemen End of Season Trail Maintenance Report

The Gila Chapter Back Country Horsemen of America located in Silver City, NM recently ended this year’s trail clearing season by packing into Little Spring in the Gila Wilderness for 3 nights and working on the Little Creek trail and the trail towards McKenna Park. Rain and high water in Little Creek cut the trip short, but the trail mileage completed, brought the total for the season to approximately 80 miles of trails maintained. In 2014, trails were cleared both inside and outside of wilderness including about 32 miles of the Continental Divide Trail.

Gerry Engel, Public Service Chairperson, said that “this year’s season started in March with Forest Service -provided first aid training, and chainsaw and crosscut saw training to members. By April, we were clearing trails in the Burros. Eleven projects later we had completed the season. It was kind of a strange season with the dry conditions, the fire at Signal Peak and some intense rain in late summer and fall. We ended up kind of starting and stopping and some of the trails we cleared burned over or were closed due to flooding but over all we had a good year. We put in about 750 accident free volunteer hours and contributed over 160 days of stock use. We rode into many beautiful parts of the Forest, had many wonderful nights out under the stars, ate great food, enjoyed each others company and experienced a wonderful feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day when we rode back into camp on a trail that was in better condition than when we started in the morning.”

The Gila Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen is one of 8 Back Country Horsemen chapters in New Mexico. Nationally, Back Country Horsemen of America has chapters in over 25 states. The purpose of the Back Country Horsemen of America is:

1.To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness.

2.To work to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.

3.To assist the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource.

4.To educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.

5.To foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen’s organizations

In assisting with trail maintenance, Back Country Horsemen improve trail recreational opportunities for not only horseman but for hikers, bikers and others that use public land trails. Nationally, Back Country Horsemen contribute more than $14 million annually in volunteer time to keep trails open on public lands. Nationwide, there is a huge trail maintenance backlog. Locally, as a result of recent fires and floods, trail travel on the Forest is becoming more and more difficult. Many individuals and groups volunteer to help keep trails open. These volunteers are becoming more important as time goes on.

The Gila Chapter of the Back Country Horseman of America meet once a month at 6:00 pm in the lower level of the Gila Regional Medical Center. For information call 757-590-3497.

Packing in 10-2014

BCH members packing into the Gila Wilderness


Cutting large log with crosscut saw. (left to right is Gerry Engel, Laurie Wiosinski, Doug Dexter and Rawlings Lemon)
2014 Gila Aldo Trails Cleared Map


Rabb Park

Rabb Park and Quaking Aspen Trail Clearing Report – On March 20 through 22 Donna Tillmann, Steve Servis, Rawlings Lemon, Mickey Lemon and I cleared the Rabb Park and Quaking Aspen trails. This was a total of about 14 miles of trail. As I had mentioned in a previous note, we canceled this project on the 16th because it did not appear that we could accomplish much with a one day project. After that I talked with several folks, we decided to try this project as a limited pack trip to get some experience on animals that did not have much packing experience. Donna packed her horse “Red”, I packed my mule “Toby” and a friend of mine Steve Servis packed his mule “Butter Bean”. I did not send out additional signing up information for this project because we wanted to keep it small with the inexperienced animals and because of limited parking at the trailhead. We had a few minor issues with the animals, but in general things went well. We were able to remove or cut 82 trees total from the two trails.

None of us had been on the Quaking Aspen trail before. We got to this trail from the Rabb Park Trail, but it actually starts near East Canyon off of the McKnight Road (Forest Road 152). The road into East Canyon is really rough so since we wanted to also clear the Rabb Park Trail, we went in that way and camped a couple of nights in the middle. The Quaking Aspen Trail is a pretty good trail. If it was easier to access, it would really be a better way to get to the Black Range Crest than the Railroad Canyon or Gallinas trails. It is steep in places but is not rocky like the other trails that access the Black Range Crest. There are lots of very scenic spots and good vistas. It hits the Black Range Crest Trail about 1/8 mile north of the Gallinas Trail so a person could do a long (about 20 miles) loop by going in on the Rabb Park Trail, turning east where the Rabb Park Trail junctions with the Quaking Aspen Trail, following the Quaking Aspen Trial to the junction with the Black Range Crest Trial, going south on it for about 1/8 mile and then going south on the Gallinas Trail to the Railroad Canyon trailhead. Since you do not start and stop in the same place you would have to have a trailer on both ends or get someone to shuttle.

The first part of the Rabb Park Trail is real rocky with some steep pitches. There is one section just past Rabb Park where it is very narrow and rocky with a couple of step ups with narrow footing. About a mile after that the trail gets much less rocky.

There is presently water in Rabb Creek and a little water along the trail in the upper end of Sheppard Canyon over the ridge from Rabb park. The water will probably not last long. I was surprised that we were able to make it all the way to the Black Range Crest Trail without hitting much snow. We crossed a few snow drifts but nothing more than a few inches deep. The junction of Quaking Aspen Trail with the Black Range Crest Trail is at 9000 feet elevation.

So, both of these trails are now open and ready for riding. If you want any more information about them, call or email any of us that were on this trip and we can help you out.


Bear Canyon, Allie Canyon and Wood-haul Road Trail Clearing report – In March 27th, Rawlings Lemon, Stephanie Stone, Tom Dwyer, and I cleared 3 miles of the Wood Haul Trail (#55) from Forest Road 885A to the Junction with the Bear Canyon Trial, 5 miles down the Bear Canyon Trail (#104) to the junction with the the Allie Canyon Trail, and 3 miles back up the Allie Canyon Trail (#100) to Forest Road 885A (a total of 11 miles). We removed 38 trees from these trails with a couple that were about 30″ in diameter. We parked at the junction of Signal Peak Road and Forest Road 4256B, rode down 4256B to the CDT, down the CDT to Forest Road 885A, down 885A to the junction with the Wood Haul Trail, down the Wood Haul Trail to the junction with the Bear Canyon Trail, down the Bear Canyon Trail and across the ridge to the junction with Allie Canyon and then back up Allie Canyon to junction with Forest Road 885A and back to the vehicle. The total ride was about 14 miles. This is a nice loop. There was some water in Bear and Allie, but it seems to be drying out quickly. The Bear Canyon Trail has been marked but it is still dificult to identify is a few spots. We lost the trail twice and had to do some back tracking and looking around to relocate it. There is one set of signs on the Wood Haul Trail that we found confusing. I plan to ride back into that area again to see if I can figure out some way to make them better. Generally the trail is good. There are a few notable steep spots. Where the Bear Canyon Trail goes over the ridge into Allie Canyon it is rocky on the way up and really steep and rocky dropping into Allie Canyon. The climb out of Allie Canyon to Forest Road 885A is very steep. The trail was dry so we did not have any problems but the soils in this area contain a lot of clay so this trail gets slippery when it is wet. This is a very pretty area. Both canyons have big ponderosa pine and some mixed conifer in the bottoms. The upper end of Allie Canyon has some really interesting rock areas just above the bottom. You have to ride up out of the bottom to the south to see these. If you have questions regarding any of these trails, contact anyone that worked on the project.

Railroad Canyon, Gallinas Canyon and Crest Trail clearing report – Between 4/1 and 4/4 we cleared the Gallinas Canyon Trail (128), the Railroad Canyon Trail (129), the Crest Trail (79) between Gallinas and Hillsboro Peak and the Spring Canyon Trail (721). This was a total of 15.5 miles of trail. We removed or cut a total of 61 down trees. In addition, we lopped the brush along the Crest Trail between Gallinas Canyon and Railroad Canyon. The following folks participated during all or part of the project; Gerry Engel, Rawling Lemon, Mickey Lemon, Donna Tillman, Dave Allen, Jodie Knight, Stephanie Stone, Cindi DeCapiteau and Tom Dwyer. Was a good outting with lots of great food provided by Mickey and Jodie and lots of laughing around the campfires. We did not end up working on the Holden Prong Trail into Animas Creek. There just was not enough time. On the first day of work, we cleared the Gallinas Canyon Trail, the Railroad Canyon Trail and The Crest Trail in between. A seperate group of folks lopped brush along the Crest Trail. On the 2nd day of work we planned to work the Crest Trail from Railroad Canyon over Hillsboro Peak and down the south side to the junction with the Hillsboro Peak Bypass Trail below Hillsboro Peak but we actually ran into enough snow on the Crest Trail that we were concerned about the horses falling. As a result, we worked the Crest Trail to just below Hillsboro Peak and turned back. We did not do East Railroad Canyon this trip. That trail is really steep and is very difficult for horses (especially going up where there is a section that is solid rock and very steep). We worked it last year so we decided to skip it this year. Based on what we found on the other trails, there is likely some down trees on that trail. We were not going to work Spring Canyon since we worked it last year but since it is close to where we camped (Upper Gallinas Campground) we decided it would be a good project for the last day. It turned out to be a productive day. We removed or cut 26 trees from this trail including one really big one. I have attached a before and after picture of that one. If you want additional information about any of these trails, just contact me or others that participated in the project.

Signal Peak, Black Peak and CDT trail clearing project report – Trail, and did some pruning of low branches along the Continental Divide Trail. On the 15th, Laurie Wlosinski cleared the lopped the Signal Peak Trail. On the 16th, Gerry Engel, Rawlings Lemon, and Donna Tillmann cleared the remaining trails. Laurie was planning to work with us but her horse was not doing well so she had to turn around and go home.

All of these trails are in pretty good shape. The climb to Signal Peak on trail 742 has some steep section and a little slick rock that you have to maneuver around but most of the remainder of the trails have good footing and reasonable grades with lots of scenic views. The part of the CDT above Meadow Creek was burned a few years ago and some of the dead trees are falling. That is where we removed the most trees. It would not surprise me if recent winds have resulted in additional trees falling across the trail in that section. You can make a nice loop (as seen on Donna Tillmann’s attached map) by parking at the parking lot on the left just after you turn on the Signal Peak Road, riding up the Signal Peak Trail past the lookout, cross the Signal Peak Road and get on the trail to Black Peak (152) following that trail to the junction with the Continental Divide Trail (74), turn left onto the CDT and follow it all the way to Aztec Park. At Aztec Park turn left on Forest Road 89 and drop into Meadow Creek. When you hit Meadow Creek, turn right on Forest Road 149. Follow it for about 1/2 mile and then turn left up a 4 wheeler trail that goes up a side drainage. This trail will take you back up to the Meadow Creek Road (149) about 1/2 mile in from Highway 15. Turn right on the Meadow Creek Road and follow it to just before Highway 15. At that point, there is an unmarked trail to the left that parallels Highway 15 and will take you back to the parking lot. The total distance of this loop is between 13 and 14 miles. If you have questions about any of this email me or give me a call.

Little Cherry Creek and CDT trail clearing project report – On Sunday April 21, Gerry Engel, Donna Tillmann, Steve Servis, and Stephenie Stone cleared the Little Cherry Creek trail and the part of the CDT from the junction of the Little Cherry Creek Trail to Black Peak. This is a total of about 4.5 miles. We only removed or cut a total of 9 trees from this trail so it was a relatively easy project. There was one really big down oak down on the Little Cherry Creek trail that took a bit of time to remove but all other trees were relatively small. This brings our total miles cleared up to about 55 for the year. If you want any information about riding this or any of the other trails that we have cleared, let me know.

Tadpole Ridge Trail clearing project report – On April 26th, Gerry Engel, Donna Tillmann and Stephanie Stone cleared the 8.5 mile long Tadpole Ridge Trial (232) from Highway 15 to Sheep Corral at Forest Road 282. We removed or cut 22 trees including one good size one that was across the trail on a very steep side slope. This log would have been very difficult to get by on horseback. We also improved a bad spot in the tread where there was a root across the trail resulting in a high step up.

This is a fairly difficult trail and is not for folks with a fear of heights. Parts of the trail are located on very steep side slopes with narrow tread. There are also some steep down and up sections. For those that do not mind riding on fairly difficult trails, the trail provides some really long views of the Gila Forest and the area around it all the way to Mexico. Tadpole Ridge has much higher elevation than the areas around it so there is not much blocking the views.

When we completed the project at Sheep Corral we decided that we would ride a loop rather than going back the way we came. We followed the Sheep Corral road, other roads and ATV trails back to near the beginning of the Tadpole Ridge Trail. This resulted in a really nice 18.5 mile ride. The loop is shown on the attached map provided by Donna Tillmann. If you want more information on the trail, give me a call or email.

This brings the total miles that we have cleared this year up to about 62.

McKnight Canyon, Black Range Crest and Powderhorn Ridge Trail clearing project report . – Approximatelly 15 miles of trail were cleared. On 4/29 Rawlings and Gerry drove up to Kelly Tank and also to Meason Park to recon for McKnight project and a possible substitute for Black Canyon.  Rawlings drove.  On May 7th Rawlings and Gerry drove to Mcknight Cabin area and walked the Crest Trail to Powderhorn and the Wilderness portion of the Powderhorn Trial.  We removed or cut 7 trees from the Crest trail and 29 trees from the Powderhorn Trail.  We did this so that when we camp at Kelly Tank we could clear the remainder of the Powderhorn Trail before the majority of the work party got to camp so that we could split up with one group working on Mcknight and the other group lopping Powderhorn.  Gerry drove to Mcknight.  The road is really bad.

On 5/9 Mickey Lemon, Rawlings Lemon and Gerry Engel drove our 2 vehicles and horse trailers to Kelly Tank and camped.  Donna Tillmann drove up to flag the route so that others could find the way on the 10th.  She went home that night and came back on the 10th to join us with her horse and camping equipment.  On the 10th, Donna, Rawlings, Gerry and Mickey rode up the Powderhorn road to the trail and cleared as much of the uncleared portion of the trail as we could.  We removed 25 more trees but could not do the portion of the trail past the junction with the South Fork of the Mimbres River Trail because of the weather (corn snow and lightning).  On the evening of the 10th we were joined by Pat Buls, Jodie Knight, Cindi deCapiteau, Ed Denzler, and Yvonne Denzler.  Tom Dwyer came out the morning of the 11th.

On the 11th, Tom Dwyer took a Polaski and worked on some tread problems on the Powderhorn Trail.  Mickey, Cindi, Jodie, Yvonne, and Pat did lopping on the Powderhorn Trail.  Ed stayed in camp to make sure nobody messed with equipment.  Gerry, Rawlings and Donna went to the Mcknight trail and cleared downed trees.  That day we cut or removed 48 trees including one that was 35inches.  On the 12th, Gerry, Rawlings and Donna again went to the Mcknight trail to complete clearing work.  We cleared an additional 50 trees.  There were probably 30 to 35 small aspen on the portion of the trail going up to McKnight Cabin.  When we got to the cabin, we decided that we would go pack along the Crest Trail and Powderhorn to clear out a couple of more trees on the section of the Powderhorn trail that we did not clear on the 10th.  We ended up clearing an additional 8 trees from the Powderhorn Trail bringing the total for that trail to 62.  The rest of the group except Ed came down McKnight also.  They did some additional lopping.  Ed stayed in camp and cleaned up the area around Kelly Tank.  He picked up a lot of wire, old metal and cans that were laying around the area.

This project brought the total miles cleared in 2013 up to 77.

After this project, no more work was accomplished in 2013.  We had other projects planned but The Silver Fire started resulting in many areas being closed.  This fire burned up many of the areas that we had cleared.