On my final day in New Mexico, I finally found a park with hiking trails that allowed dogs. This park experienced a major fire last year but has been spared this year from fires raging in New Mexico and Colorado. I went early in the day in hopes of making several of the trails before the day heated up too much. I arrive to find only two trails open. All the others were long walks through the scorched earth (only to be scorched earth themselves with “hike at your own risk” signs posted at the entrances and exits). Little of the wildlife viewing that they promised was available due to the fires the year before.
I was able to do the most historical, though least pleasing as far as nature hikes go, trail up to the caved in entrances to old coal mines. The trail wandered through the streets of the old mining town with little more than foundations remaining of the buildings that housed the miners and businesses that supported the mines. They were well identified with signs and photos from the heyday of the town and mining operations. The trail had clear markings and while there was quite a rise from the trailhead at the visitors center to the mouths of the mines.
I do have to wonder why they paved most of the trail with crushed black stone. Did they want the visitor to consider the black pits of the miners? I cannot say for certain what their motivation was, but it made for a blistering hot walk even in the relative cool of the morning. It made the walk especially uncomfortable for my dog and he regularly changed sides of the trail to walk in whatever shade the scrub-oak provided.
While the trail made only minimal promise of wildlife spotting, I did manage to look quickly enough toward a commotion in the brush and glimpse a black bear fleeing to the other side of a ridge through the low brush.
No - the bear is not in the picture, but the photo is where it would have been had it stayed still
A short distance up the path we found more proof of the bear and the answer to the question: Does a bear s*!# in the woods?
No. It does it in the middle of the trail.
Despite the discomfort of the trail, it did give me a chance to enjoy a bit of wild New Mexico up close. The next time I come to New Mexico (big if on that one) I will come on my own and find a place with more outdoorsy things to do and some trails that are actually functioning.