Valle Vidal Advice Wanted
Jan 2, 2022 at 1:19 pm #3735938
I am considering a 41 mile loop hike in the Valle Vidal after Labor Day and need advice from those that are familiar with the area. Since the VV has few designated trails, I was looking at utilizing old forest service roads and some cross country navigation.
Here’s my thinking:
- Begin and end the hike near Philmont’s Ponil Camp on Road 204.
- Follow 204 (which turns into FSR 1910 upon entering the Carson NF) northwest along Middle Ponil Creek to FSR 1914.
- Follow FSR 1914 4 miles, then cross country (some maps show an old road that has no NFS designation) through Ring Place to McCrystal Creek Campground.
- From McCrystal Creek CG, follow McCrystal Creek 2 miles northwest then cross country east to Philmont’s Whitman Vega Camp.
- Follow an old road south. This road becomes FSR 1920 south of it’s intersection with FSR 1950.
- Follow FSR 1920 south along North Ponil Creek out of Carson National Forest Land.
- Continue south along North Ponil Creek following an old road (no designation) to the mouth of Cook Canyon.
- Take the trail through Cook and Horse Canyons back to Philmont’s Ponil Camp completing the loop.
Here are my questions:
- Feasibility: Are there any parts of this route that you would not recommend?
- Permissions needed: This route crosses Philmont property and follows the boundary of Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch Greenwood Tract. What permissions will I need?
- Water: Are Middle and North Ponil Creeks reliable water sources? Some maps show them as perennial steams while others show them as seasonal. Is McCrystal Creek a reliable water source? What about the windmill and tank at Whitman Vega Camp?
Any advice is welcome. Is there a better loop to be had in the Valle Vidal?
Thanks for any and all recommendations.Jan 2, 2022 at 2:12 pm #3735941
Here is a link to a map of the route described, above.
BroomeJan 31, 2022 at 9:17 am #3738638
Sorry for the late response. Just saw this. The beauty of the Valle is to never use trails as much as you can. The forest is managed to the point of over managed. Low growth is kept down with burning and intensive thinning. We hear of the USFS not keeping up with management but in Carson they do a great job. You are going to a great place. Your scouts will be tested but have fun doing it. The only thing that gets in the way are the deadfalls from the ghosts of the Ponil Complex Fire 2002. It can make walking tricky. But its still fun and you don’t feel you are at a scout camp.Jan 31, 2022 at 9:21 am #3738639Jan 31, 2022 at 10:41 am #3738641Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Sounds like a great trip. You might post the same question in this philmont group.
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The [email protected] ModeratorsJan 31, 2022 at 3:06 pm #3738662
Thank you, Bruce, for the response and advice.
FYI, the group I plan for are all adults. This is why we would go after Labor Day. We don’t want to interfere with any of Philmont’s operations during their “prime time.” I’ve been in email communication with Austin St. George who is the Associate Director of Camping at Philmont. We were discussing my revised plan (link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9kkpmjft5tko8jp/Map_Valle%20Vidal%20Loop.pdf?dl=0) and the water situation in both North and Middle Ponil Creeks. He was telling me that there are some operational windmills near the Beatty Lakes that may have water. Do you have any knowledge in that regard? Or the water situation, in late September, in general on the above route. Anything you can give me–personal knowledge or a recommendation to someone else–would be appreciated. Is the bottom picture–above–the windmill and tank at Whitman-Vega?
Mart from Texas (Broome)Jan 31, 2022 at 6:25 pm #3738673Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I don’t have any experience with Valle Verde. Looks more fun than Philmont to my eyes in that it offers an un-curated backpacking experience..
I see that there is also a Reddit thread on Valle Verde.
BruceFeb 1, 2022 at 10:25 am #3738723
Mart, You are going sans scouts so the world is your oyster on this one. I know that water flows pretty regular on Middle Ponil Creek. We did pass one working windmill water tank on Beatty Lakes. The water tank at Iris Park is solar and is well kept. There is water at McCrystal Campground and Rich Cabins.
If I was to just knock around the place I’d visit Shuree Ponds and Little Costilla. Both are on USFS Carson National Forest. The road up Windy Gap is not easy but worth it but I’m sure that there are other ways. The trail up Greenwood Canyon is posted for anything other than Philmont trekkers but I’m not sure it will be open to anyone during hunting season. That’s the property of the UU Bar Ranch. 575-376-2035. Elk hunting is a big part of what they sell.Feb 1, 2022 at 10:30 am #3738724
Elk Season starts September 1st for archery.Feb 3, 2022 at 10:03 am #3738893
Thank you, Bruce K., for all the good information.
~Mart from Texas (Broome)Feb 19, 2022 at 5:12 am #3740787EnyawSpectator
Got the same photo with my troop last summer in the Valle with Little Costilla in background.
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