“Santa Fe, Carson national forests closing to public–portions of Cibola Forests also closing”–that was the headline on the front page of yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal. All closures would begin at 8am, Thursday, May 19. We had already heard the news and we knew Wednesday was going to be our last chance to get out in the mountains and do a final hike before the indefinite closure. We didn’t waste our opportunity, taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather to enjoy the cool breezes and fresh greenery of San Pedro Parks Wilderness.
San Pedro Parks, located in the Santa Fe National Forest, has an average elevation of 10,000 feet. The term “parks” refers to the grassy meadows that are interspersed throughout the conifer forests at the higher elevations. It is always a refreshing change from the hot desert and yesterday was no exception.
We started our 7-mile hike on the trail that leads to the San Gregorio Reservoir. After walking around the reservoir we continued up one of the trails that took us to the higher elevations, through some of the parks and then down to a pleasant, bubbling stream that was our lunch spot and turnaround point.
The forest closures are due to the statewide drought conditions and high fire danger. With no rain predicted in the foreseeable future it could be quite awhile before the forests reopen. I’m glad we were able to get out when we did. The headline in today’s paper read “Hikers, bikers visit Cibola one last day” and it was accompanied by photos of folks enjoying the forest. Cibola National Forest is close to Albuquerque and the trails there are quite popular. With the exception of a couple of fisherman around the reservoir we didn’t see any other hikers where we were and it is less than 2 hours to drive there from Albuquerque. That’s another benefit of San Pedro Parks.