National Trails Day – New Trail segment ribbon cutting!

National Trails Day – New Trail segment ribbon cutting!

Inaugural Opening…Shortcut to the Mexican Canyon Trestle.

On Saturday, June 7, National Trails Day, our New Mexico Rails to Trails Association will host the inaugural opening and ribbon cutting of a  section of the original rail road bed  previously unavailable to the public.  This pristine 800 foot stretch of rail-trail is located just up-trail from the Mexican Canyon Trestle, and contains is own trestle and a beautiful, quaint cabin.  Gates will open at 9 am, with a short ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 am, and close at 4 pm.  Displays and refreshments will be available.  This shortcut will only be open to the public on select days during the summer/fall season.

Access to the new section is about 1/2 miles down-trail from the Trestle Recreation area using Forest Service Trails 5001B/5001.  The Rec Area is immediately west of Cloudcroft.  Signs will be posted.  An alternate access is also available via Little Mexican Canyon Road located at the Highway 82 entrance to the Rec Area. This access is also walk in only-no vehicles allowed, and the road is very steep (even steeper on the way back!).  And there is no public parking in the immediate area.

Dr. Bonnie Brooks, who has a tremendous affection for the area, recently granted property to the New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association as part of a life estate deed. The new shortcut is on this generously donated land. Dr. Brooks will be at the ribbon-cutting.  NMRTA is preparing the area for visitors to enjoy on June 7th, and is particularly working hard to complete construction of “Bonnie’s Bridge”, a small bypass footbridge that will allow visitors to view the  features of the railroad trestle that is no longer safe for public use.



Brooks Cabin on the Mexican Canyon Trail rail bed

NMRTA Annual Meeting – Friday, May 2nd!

It’s that time again! Please join us on May 2 (that’s a Friday) at 6:00 at the Lodge’s Pavilion in Cloudcroft for our ANNUAL MEETING. If you haven’t been to one of our annual meetings in the past, it’s notsomuch a MEETING but more of a casual, social gathering where we’ll feed you some free hors d’oeuvres, talk about what all the local Rails-to-Trails has done this last year and what we plan to do in the future, AND we always have a guest speaker. This year, we have the wonderful Dr. Bill Boverie providing us with a very, very interesting local history! Dr. Boverie will speak to us through the words and character of William Ashton Hawkins, the attorney for the Eddy brothers and was instrumental in the foundation of Alamogordo and establishing the local railroads. This is a unique experience to hear and see Dr. Boverie as Mr. W.A. Hawkins himself (complete with top hat and tails)!

We can also expect short presentations from the Forest Service as well as several local area hiking groups. We expect it to last until around 9pm but it’s a totally open meet so you are free to come and stay as short or long as you like!

We certainly hope to see you up at the Pavilion at 6:00pm, Friday, May 2nd! There’s no admission charge and should be a really great time!





Even though we had to reschedule this month’s workday at the least minute, we had another great turnout!  18 willing and able bodies showed up and met again at the top of the Bridal Veil Falls trail.

We ended up splitting into three groups and spread out a bit on the trail — one group began working on the erosion control culvert area; another headed down the trail and worked on some erosion control (lots of rock-moving) and yet another group followed a forest service worker driving a small excavator, helping spread out the dirt and rocks dug out from the edge of the trail. The ultimate goal was to help give any future water a better place to go rather than wash away the existing trail! The pace was a little slow and some heavy rocks were hauled off the trail, but all in all it was a great success!

Next month, we will continue restoring the 100+ year old erosion control structure and continue trail repair, all in this same area.

Working on the erosion control culvert area

Relocating rocks big and small!

Spreading dirt

As always, we’ve got many more photos! Check them out on our official Flickr page!


We had yet another very successful workday this month! We had a great turnout with 21 volunteers to include two out of state visitors — Roger and Holly Rosin — from Minnesota. They were corralled in to our workday by Rails-to-Trails member John Reimer.

Thirteen volunteers gathered at the parking area at the top of the Bridal Veil Falls trail and walked the 1/2 mile down-trail to the worksite where 2 Forest Service representatives, Dario Samora and Heather Burman (along with other volunteer trail workers) met everyone after using a private back road to deliver an excavator and hand tools needed for the job.

Dario, under the guidance of Heather, dug almost 450 feet of drainage ditch with the excavator.  The huge amount of resulting dirt and rocks had to be moved and relocated by hand and wheelbarrow to fill in eroding sections of the trail and to smooth the trail tread.

The new ditch, and another 600 feet or so of existing ditch, had to be cleared of debris, rocks, shrubs,  and some of the original rail road ties.  Of course, all the railroad memorabilia was carefully repositioned along the trail out of the path of potential water damage.

One particularly large rock in the path of the excavator had to be broken with chisel and sledge into several manageable pieces for moving — it was a really back-breaking and bone jarring ordeal!

All this “chain-gang” type rock and dirt work, and a warm day, proved to be very exhausting, even to the five Holloman volunteers whom we relied on for their strong backs while those who were a little older and smart enough not to get caught up in the heavy rock stuff and pushing wheelbarrows, cleared culverts in the area and “beautified” the trail by smoothing the dirt and lining the trail with rocks.

Next month, we plan to  begin restoring a 100+ year old erosion control structure and continue trail repair, all in this same area.

Just a few of our volunteers for the day

Rails-to-Trails crew heading up the trail

Some volunteers hauling some of the seemingly endless dirt and rocks

Regulars Glen Fess and Doug Holcolmb along with another dedicated volunteer hauling more dirt!

Making big rocks into small rocks!

As always, we’ve got many more photos! Check them out on our official Flickr page!


It was another cool day at the Dog Canyon trail above Oliver Lee State Park main building. Everyone that showed was ready to continue our work from last month in getting the trail in good shape and ready for summer hiking traffic.

This month we had 14 volunteers show up ready to do some work. We had a bunch of regulars as well as 3 new faces in the crowd to include some younger, more able bodied airmen from Holloman willing to carry 5 gallon buckets of dirt (around 60 pounds each — a welcome and significant bit of help to us old guys!).

Once again, we were reminded of how steep and rocky this trail can be but the view is worth the extra effort in getting up there. We split into two groups, one led by board member Doug Holcomb and the other by our longtime dedicated volunteer, Glenn Fess. Both groups essentially dug up loose dirt where we could find it (out of view from the trail) and hauled 5 gallon buckets to the trail wherever it was needed to shore up the large rock “steps” along the trail. On the way down near the end of the workday, Doug and a few others cleared the loose gravel that accumulated at each trail switchback.

Some of our volunteers for the day

Again, Jeremy Evans, the Forest Service employee that has been joining us over the last several months made the long drive from Cloudcroft and brought all the tools we needed for the day.

Again, we feel like it was a very successful work day and we really appreciate everyone that participated. Next month we SHOULD be hitting the Bridal Veil Falls trail — more to come on that as always!

Rails-to-Trails crew heading up the trail

Our dedicated volunteers from Holloman hauling a bucket of dirt up the trail

Laura Letterman, John Reimer and Don Draney filling up one of the 5 gallon buckets with dirt

Great view of Oliver Lee State Park campgrounds far below

As always, we’ve got many more photos! Check them out on our official Flickr page!

Workday – January 25th

What we’ll be doing: We will be doing repair and maintenance on the Riparian Nature Trail at Oliver Lee State Park in the Dog Canyon area. We may also finish some trail repair work that we started last workday (in December) on the lower part of the Dog Canyon Trail just above the park headquarters. Tools will be provided and as always bring plenty of drinking water, sun protection, work gloves and sturdy boots.

When/Where: Saturday, January 25th at 9am. Gather in the parking area of Oliver Lee State Park.

DIRECTIONS TO OLIVER LEE STATE PARK: At the intersection of US70 and US54 on the south side of Alamogordo (just west of the overpass), drive south about 8.7 miles on US54 and turn toward the mountains on the road indicated by the sign to the Park.  Travel about 4 miles to the Park headquarters.  Drop your passengers off in the parking area, but park your car just outside the gate to the parking area. Ignore the self-service fee station.

If you need any additional information, please call 575-434-1949 and ask for Grady or e-mail


We were reminded on Saturday why we normally take December off for the volunteer work days! This one was a bit different though simply because it was our rescheduled work day from our November cancellation (if you remember, it was due to the wet weather). Anyhow, we had a breezy, cool and successful work day this month up the Dog Canyon trail.

We worked over a mile and a half distance of the Dog Canyon trail above the Oliver Lee State Park main building. We were extremely fortunate to have 19 volunteers! Eight of us were regulars but we were very happy (and fortunate) to welcome an addition 11 young(er) airmen from Holloman! All I got out of them were that they were cops from base (Security Forces or Security Police? I always get them mixed up) and that their Flight Chief “encouraged” their participate. Well, thank you Flight Chief, whoever you are, and sincerely — thanks all of you that came out. You were a huge help!

The trail was pretty steep and rocky in many places, but the view was great! We managed to make a whopping 61 trail and water bar repairs throughout the mile and a half of trail (we think it was actually 60 repairs but our board President felt no one would believe such an even number so we rounded up a bit — you’d think he used to write EPRs (performance reports) in the Air Force!)

The weather was pretty cool but everyone seemed dressed well for it. Some of us unfortunately worked a side of the mountain that caught most of the breeze but later in the work day the sun started to finally break through the clouds and warmed us up a bit.

Most of our volunteers for the day (to include the motley crew from Holloman!)

Jeremy Evans, the Forest Service employee that has been joining us over the last several months faithfully showed up again and brought all the tools we needed from the Cloudcroft station.

One interesting bit about this trail is that two of our volunteers (one of which is a Rails-to-Trails board member as well) Doug Holcomb and Glenn Fess actually BUILT this trail way, way back when they were younger and more physically fit men (was New Mexico even a STATE then? No one knows for sure)! I don’t know Glenn’s past experience first-hand with the trail but I know Doug is a veteran Forest Service employee and he told me about his early years working on the very trail we were repairing.

Again, we feel like it was a very successful work day and we really appreciate everyone that participated. We hope to see you all again next month!

Rails-to-Trails crew heading up the trail

Those buckets are about to get heavy once they’re filled with dirt!

Building a much needed water bar across the trail

Great volunteer spirits even in the cold!

View from the Dog Canyon trail

Great views from the trail even in the gloomy weather.

As always, we’ve got many more photos! Check them out on our official Flickr page!