It was a bit chilly in 10-15 knot winds starting out on this hike. We’d come out Cabezon Road to Pipeline Road, to explore this route into the Rio Puerco valley. The road from US 550 is well traveled dirt, fine in dry conditions, but not a place to go after rain or if there is snow on the road. Parking is 9/10ths of a mile on a two track, relatively good but only with a high-clearance vehicle (we use a Tacoma 4WD pickup).
Our hike started from parking at a fence, across about 6/10ths of a mile of level, open terrain, to rocky ridges with mesas another 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile beyond. We proceeded northeast towards -the- Meseta de Ricardo, generally following a track from ASCHG. Along the way, I looked intently for petrified wood, having found same in earlier hikes in similar terrain (see captions in George’s Photos). At one point, we entered a small canyon and encountered a 10′ rock wall, so it was backtrack and find a way up and around it.
We continued northeast towards Meseta de Ricardo, stopping for coffee in the lee of the mesa and a rock outcropping to be out of the wind. From here we found ourselves diverging from the ASCHG hike, reaching a point where we made a sharp right turn to get back to their track. It was fortunate for us, as from their description we didn’t have a difficult descent from the top of the meas, and … we came across an area of rocks lying about that we concluded must be petrified tree trunks (check the photos below). This was a great way to finish the interesting part of the hike; from here it was back across the valley to the truck.
We will return for more exploring. And this is a great area to visit for just exploring; it is just an hour from Bernalillo and interesting sights are close enough that long hiking isn’t required.
Jay here: For someone who had the remnants of a rotten cold (carrying a ton of kleenex), this turned out to be a very fascinating hike. The winds almost pushed across the flat start of the hike and over some very different terrain for us. Getting up close to hoodoos and other rock formations was a big attraction but the petrified trees we came upon at late stage of the hike was the big bonus. You almost don’t believe that you’re looking at ancient trees that time has turned into stone. Definitely going back for a closer look.
Total Distance: 3.18 miles
Elevation: 5,821 start, 5,986 maximum, 5,816 minimum
Gross gain: 165 ft. Aggregate ups & downs: ascending 436 ft, descending: 433 ft
Maximum slope: 27% ascending, 35% descending, 4% average
If you haven’t explored these hiking tracks with Google Earth, I urge you to try it. With the virtual 3-dimensional presentation, achieved by panning and tilting the view, you can get a much better idea of the hikes and terrain than you can get from the screenshot above.
Download .kml file for Google Earth here: Mesita de Ricardo Hike.Jay.2016-12-04
ASCHG: Mesita de Ricardo Hike
ASCJG: Mesita de Ricardo – Northwest Passage
BLM: Ojito Wilderness
Wilderness.net: Ojito Wilderness
The American Southwest: Ojito Wilderness Area
Travels with the Blonde Coyote: Into the Ojito Wilderness (great descriptions and photos, some in the vicinity of Dragons Back).
And more references online, just do a Google Search for Ojito Wilderness