Railroad Canyon

Canyon wall and scenery
If you hike this trail, you will encounter a pleasant canyon that can take you all the way to Hillsboro Peak or other places in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: Gila National Forest; Silver City Ranger District
Official URL:forest service hike web site
Region: Southwest; Gila.
Elevation:
start: 7148ft; 2179m end: 7503ft; 2287m
min: 7148ft; 2179m max: 7503ft; 2287m
elevation gain/loss: 787ft; 240m.
Elevations from GPS elevation. Elevation gain is GPS total of all climbing segments.
Length: 2.57mi; 4.13km.
Trail:
surface: dirt
condition: Fine
ease of following: Easy
obstacles: The trail has several stream crossings.
The trail starts out as a road, but eventually becomes a single track. In times of high water, you can expect to get wet crossing the stream. We hiked when the stream was barely running.
Fee: $0.00.
Season: All year. Snow might limit the season somewhat, especially if you want to go all the way to Hillsboro peak.
Dogs: Yes.
Bikes: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: No. Water crossings and wheelchairs do not mix well.
General notes: The trail goes to Hillsboro peak (among other places). However, we hiked only to the junction with trail 130.

A three-site campground is at the trailhead.

Trailhead facilities: picnic area, trash can(s), vault toilet(s).
Hike attractions: wildflowers, wildlife.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2003-06-07
Time it took us: 3:23.
Usage (people/hour): 1.14.
Cleanliness: 10.

Waypoints:

Waypoint Type Description
RRCYNTHTrailheadRailroad Canyon trailhead
RRCYNY1Trail junctionJunction of Railroad Canyon trail and forest trail 129 (through Gallinas Canyon)
RRCYNY2Trail junctionJunction of Railroad canyon trail and trail to the Black Range Crest and Holden Prong Saddle

Maps:

Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Aldo Leopold Wilderness US Forest Service 1984 1:63360 Y From Amazon (purchase)
Gila National Forest US Forest Service 1997 1:126720 N from Amazon (purchase) South half
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the trailhead:

From I-25, take exit 63 toward Hillsboro. In this town at the junction of NM 152 and NM 27 we set our odometer to 0. Drive an additional 21 miles. You will see a sign indicating 129 is to the right. This is the trailhead.
No image

About the hike:

Jim Werker on the trail near the trailhead
The trail starts out as a road, but large rocks at the trailhead prevent cars from driving it.

Photo by Diana Northup.

Keep your eyes open and you can see lots of flowers and interesting insects, such as this spotless lady bettle.
ess lady bettle
Trail
This trail is relatively flat and flanked by lots of tall trees. Being in a canyon makes getting GPS satellites challenging.
The trail has several easy stream crossings; whether or not there is water depends on the season and precipitation over the last several months. In a time of high water, these crossings could be challenging.

As you can see here, when we hiked this trail, the stream was low and calm.

Willow in streambed
Diana and Jim at RRCYNY1
After about 1.75 miles, you come to a junction with trail 129 through Gallinas canyon, with the crest of the Black Range four miles up this trail (GPS: RRCYNY1). Remaining on the Railroad Canyon trail, Hillsboro peak is 5.5 miles.
Other canyons join the one you are in as you continue you slow pace up the hill. After about 2.5 miles, you come to another junction (GPS: RRCYNY2). Railroad canyon and the trail to Hillsboro peak (4.75 mi) head up to the right. Continuing straight would take you to the Black Range Crest in about 2.25 miles or Holden Prong Saddle at about 1.5 miles further. From this point, the trails begin to climb more steeply. Out of time, we turned around.
Jim and Diana at RRCYNY2
Wet bat after it was helped out of a pool
This soggy bat was in a pool, unable to get out. All three of us have had preventative rabies shots, so, using some improvised tools, Jim (carefully) helped the bat get out of the pool. Remember that any animal that you can approach is probably sick, and you do not want to get that sickness. Some, such as plague or rabies, can kill you.

This bat is probably a fringed myotis.

Here is another reason to keep your eyes out. In a crevice in a ponderosa, several (harmless) Daddy Longlegs (also known as Harvestmen) were hanging out. This one has a parasitic mite on it (the red bump).
Parasitic mite on a harvestman

Plants we saw along the trail:

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