Monday, June 8, 2015

A Day on the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway

Geronimo Trail, NM

Our habit when traveling is to pick up every piece of travel literature we touch, then sort it out back at the Cougar. Early in our time at Chloride, I grabbed the booklet Day Trips Along the Geronimo Trail – A Guide to the Scenic Byways of Sierra County, New Mexico. Filled with pictures and historic documentation, it triggered our desire to explore the area. So we used it as a planning tool for the sightseeing adventure we took today.

The Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway

As you can see on the map, The Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway runs from Beaverhead in the northwest to San Lorenzo in the southwest and includes (almost) our location in Chloride. While we didn't get on the heavy green line, Chloride did get prominent coverage in the booklet.

For today, we chose to do the southern leg of the trail. So we started at Exit 63 of I-25 where we picked up Hwy 152 west.

Hillsboro, NM
Hillsboro was the first town along this leg of The Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway. Hillsboro dates back to 1877 when gold was discovered in nearby mountains along Percha Creek. The town had its ups and downs and is now a small community of artists, ranchers, and retirees. "Main Street has a variety of shops, art galleries, and restaurants" says the tourism literature. Maybe so but today everything except one café was closed. We stopped there for a muffin and a cup of coffee.

A group of bikers thought the café was a good place for a pit stop

A number of our visitors at Chloride say they are from Hillsboro. I guess I expected a little more.

Hillsboro Mental Health Clinic

Kingston, NM
A small sign and an unimpressive turn off highway 152 put us in Kingston. By quickly applying the brakes, we managed to stop before running through the whole town. The history of this region of New Mexico is all related to mining. Kingston is no exception. It was founded in 1882 as the result of a rich gold strike. Dubbed "one of the west's wildest mining camps", in it's heyday, it boasted 7,000 people, 22 saloons, 14 stores, three newspapers, numerous hotels and boarding houses, and an Opera House. Today the Percha Bank Building is the only fully intact original structure in town. It houses the Percha Bank Museum (open by appointment).

I did get this picture of an interesting fence. Someone must have had a tree that could not be made into anything else and a sawmill that needed some exercise.

While Hillsboro and Kingston were disappointing, the spectacular views in the Gila National Forest were not – especially these two shots in Emory Pass. I'm reminded of the futility of trying to take a picture of the Grand Canyon. A camera cannot capture the scope of the scene. So it is here. Maybe the picture will give a hint.

Emory Pass Overlook #1 N32.895638o, W107.729878o Elevation: 7,224 ft

Emory Pass Overlook #2 N32.906153o, W107.766520o Elevation: 8,090 ft

Here are a few more pictures of the mountains along Hwy 152.

Winding our way down out of the Black Range mountains, we reached San Lorenzo. Compared to what we had just seen, San Lorenzo (GPS: 32.810000, -107.920000) is a fairly large town. Its population was 97 as of the 2010 census. Our odometer told us that we had covered 120 miles – most of that on a winding mountain road.

We stopped at a gas station café for a much needed pit stop, gas, and lunch. Mexican food of course.

Going home by retracing our route was not inviting. Although beautiful, it was fatiguing, and we did not care to repeat it. The gas station manager laid out a route that would take us back without having to go over the mountains. It was longer but flat. We opted for that.

This leg of the trip turned out to be 167 miles, longer than 120 to be sure, but it was OK. We got to see some more of New Mexico and we got home very tired.

I must say, however, the person who wrote the description in the guide book has a bright future writing real estate ads.

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