Distance: 6.2 miles
Season: Late Spring, Summer, Fall
Trail Conditions: Good
This pleasant day hike on the east side of the Pecos Wilderness sees few visitors, which certainly adds to its charm. Although it’s not a long hike, the initial ascent and final descent are quite steep and should be taken seriously. However, the reward is worth the work. The views from Lone Pine Mesa and the aspen forests and meadows of upper Beaver Creek make it a more than worthwhile excursion.
From Las Vegas, follow NM-518 north to the turnoff for NM-94. Turn left onto 94 and after 3/4 mile, take another left onto NM-266. After 6 miles, continue to follow NM-266, which will turn into County A3A. After another 7 miles, as you wind along Sapello Creek, a small dirt road will fork to the left. Take the fork and park here. The trailhead is about 100 feet down the road.
From the trailhead, you will immediately cross Sapello Creek and start your ascent. The first couple hundred yards of the trail are surrounded by private land, so be sure to remain on the trail, which quickly enters a mature fir forest.
The first 1.7 miles of the hike climb consistently, but the first 1/2 mile is by far the steepest. At a couple points, the trail eases for a short distance. These moments of relief don’t last long so enjoy! The trail is in good condition, so feel free to put your head down and slog your way uphill.
After about 1 mile the trail crests a small ridge, switchbacks and reaches a small landing. From here, it continues to climb on the southside of the the ridge. The dense canopy falls away and scub oak briefly becomes the dominant vegetation. On a hot day, this section of trail could get toasty. The trail eventually gains the ridge and for the final 1/2 mile or so to Lone Pine Mesa climbs steadily along the ridge until the trees fall away as you approach Lone Pine Mesa.
Although I assume at one point there was just a single pine atop the mesa, it has plenty of friends now, and the trail cuts through the small cluster of pines as it crests the open, grassy mesa heading west by southwest.
NOTE: There should be a junction with the Hermit’s Peak Trail – Trail #223 soon after reaching the mesa. However, 1/2 mile further on, you will reach a sign for the Hermit’s Peak Trail. Despite this sign, multiple sources indicate that the true junction is closer to the start of Lone Pine Mesa, so if you are heading towards Hermit, look along the edge of the aspen stand to your left (south) for your trail.
Continue to follow the Lone Pine Mesa Trail as it crosses over the mesa. As you approach the west side, you will get a unique view of the backside of Hermit Peak.
Shortly after this view emerges, you will cross through a fence and pass the aforementioned sign for the Hermit’s Peak Trail. From here, the trail starts its descent towards Beaver Creek. It cuts down through the meadow and into the stand of aspens directly below. The aspen forest becomes intermixed with conifers and soon after, the trail will branch.
All of these trails lead eventually to the same place, but stay high and to the right to remain on the official trail. Parts of this descent are steep, although not nearly as steep as the start of the trail and much shorter. Soon the meadows of Beaver Creek will start peaking through the trees and before you know it, you will have reached the bottom.
The Lone Pine Mesa Trail ends at a junction with the Porvenir Divide Trail – Trail #247 just before crossing Beaver Creek. From here, feel free to wander up or downstream, take a break, and enjoy the lovely canyon.
If you go downstream, you may see the old sign and junction for the Lone Pine Mesa Trail. Ignore this and return on the trail as you came.