This wilderness area in the Santa Fe national forest has a great variety of high peaks and ridges, pocketed lakes, and cascading creeks. Access points on all sides provide ample recreation opportunities, while the large size of the area makes solitude possible.
All along this trail covered in August was lush foliage and the sporadic moss hung from it's branches. Nowhere were the screeches, and festering words, "my precious", to be heard. Upon this bewitching cut through the Santa Fe National Forest was but enchantment and the desire to abide forever within its trunks, to watch the forest age. It's cave I found thirsty and swallowing a portion of the creek in an attempt to quest it's watery depths, down into the throat I went only to find it's thirst in a darkness unfathomable.
Excellent for the family. We went in August with 3 kids, two in backpacks. the trail is not steep but still challenging and gets your heart pumping. The caves are very cool making it a great destination out and back trail. We left from trail head at Ponchuela. We would do this again in a heart beat. Be advised there is one significant creek crossing. I would expect your shoes to be wet.
This hike was recommended by a ranger at the Pecos National Monument and did not disappoint! The hike is not strenuous and the caves are a fascinating site- Bring a flashlight if you feel like venturing into the caves. We sure wish we had one as fellow hikers told us that they explored 50 yds deep! It's also a nice cool place to take a breather before you head back to the trailhead!
For clarification, I am rating Beatty's Trail (#25) in the Pecos Wilderness that starts out at Trailhead #15, north of Tererro, NM.
The first 3 miles are a mostly difficult climb from 9000 feet to around 11,200 feet as you climb thru a couple of switchbacks. It is generally dry and dusty and the trail is well worn with plenty of larger bolders (softball to basketball sized) on the trail. There is a separate horse trail for the first mile or so but it joins the hiking trail and from there up, we saw an equal number of hikers and horses.
The first 2 1/2 miles are all in beautiful tree covered forest and as you begin to get over 11,000 feet, you begin to see groves of Aspen. I think there were also Birch trees further down the trail, but it was difficult to tell.
Just as you get to the intersection of Trail #257 (Jack's Creek Trail?) the trees open up to provide a beautiful view of the surrounding wilderness. From here to Beatty's Flats, you will move in and out of forest and meadows. It was as beautiful as any hiking I have done.
There are some cattle before you get to Noisy Brook. When we were there, there was plenty of water.
From Noisy Brook, you start to go down in elevation to Beatty's Flats where the Pecos River is nothing short of magical. You can lay in the tall Mule Grass fields under the shade of Aspens and Ponderosa Pines.
For our trip, we took trail #259 at this point in the trip