The Pine Shadow Trail is a 5.5 mile trail that runs from Forest Road 422 to the Manzano Crest Trail – Trail #170.
Trail Condition: Moderate
From the junction with the Manzano Crest Trail – Trail #170 near Manzano Peak, the trail follows the Manzano crest to the south as it slowly descends to the valley bottom. The first part of the trail is in fairly good condition and easy to follow. Unfortunately, my legs took a beating from the low, scrubby oaks that choked the overgrown trail.
After a little more than a mile, the trail drops off the ridge to the west and completely disappears temporarily. From my map, I could see that it switchbacks a few times before wrapping around to the east side of the ridge, so instead of looking for the trail, I headed straight down hill through the thinly forested slope, and after a couple minutes I found the trail again about 100-200 vertical feet below the ridge.
From here on out, the trail remained easy to follow although it was overgrown in many parts.
From here, the surrounding terrain also takes on a much different character. While much of the range is in a coniferous forest, desert characteristics dominated this southern most part of the range. There were few large trees to provide shade, the terrain was rocky and cactus and yucca became increasingly common. As the trail gets closer to the road, pinyon and juniper emerge, but before then, there are few trees to obscure the views across the burned over canyon the trail traverses.
To read more about the Pine Shadow Trail, see my trip report from Manzano Peak.