Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019
Location: Lincoln National Forest, Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Distance: 4.43 miles
Trails: Switchback Trail
Miles from Home: 549
Weather: Cloudy, cool, breezy
My aunt and I decided we needed to go on a trip together and it needed to include big pines, mountains, and seclusion from the masses. We found ourselves in Cloudcroft, which is apparently a ski town in the winter, but offers affordable accommodations in September. Our goal with this trip was to have drinks, catch up, hike, adventure, and escape the heat/humidity of Texas. We did all of the things, but I’m going to focus on the hike. The Lincoln National Forest is massive, with PLENTY of amazing places to hike. Since we had driven over seven hours to Cloudcroft, we wanted to hike as near to our cabin as possible. We chose the Switchback Trail because it promised a view and it had a cool bridge over US-82.
Road noise is one prominent feature on this particular trail, but that was expected when hiking along a US highway through the mountains. It was not overly bothersome, but remained noticeable for a while. The trail itself was quite easy, with mild inclines and hills. It was shaded, smelled of fresh pine, and did eventually offer fun views. Once off the ridge, the trail splits and there are options for ATVs and mountain bikes. We encountered both, with the ATV riders being much more considerate of the two. Always stay alert and remember even if hikers have the right of way, you can still be run over.
We lucked out with the weather - only cloudy, no real rain while on the trail. Mid-September seemed to be a quiet time in the area, and just before any big fall colors. Aspens were beginning to change, but only subtly. If you’re looking for that pop, wait a couple of weeks. (Probably now, if you’re reading this at date of publish) I can’t wait to get back to the area and explore some more of the trails and take in more great pine aroma!
COOL THINGS on the SWTICHBACK TRAIL
there’s a tunnel to get back to the Bailey Trail parking lot
lots of pine variety
cool, forested mountain views
a bridge crossing US-82