Dec 202011
 
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A unique universal design trail winding through a water-filled canyon


photo by Light Benders Photography

The locals refer to it as their "jewel" containing stories of mining, hidden treasures and the old west. Off the beaten path, but well worth the drive, the Catwalk National Scenic Trail and Whitewater Picnic Grounds are located 5 miles northeast of Glenwood, New Mexico. It offers an almost fantasy-like experience where one can easily imagine the likes of once-famed outlaws like Billy the Kid or Geronimo, fleeing to this hole-in-the-wall getaway. Hiking, swimming, picnicking and fishing offer something for everyone.

According to the Wikipedia Glenwood, New Mexico information, in 1889 silver and gold was discovered in the Mogollon Mountains above Whitewater Canyon, just outside of Glenwood. Several mines were developed, and ore was hauled in wagons to a mill at the mouth of the Canyon. The town of Graham was founded in the mountains, and water was needed to operate the electric generators. It came from a pipeline reaching up into the Canyon, and was held onto the rock walls of the Canyon with timbers and iron bars that were in constant need of maintenance. Workmen dubbed it the Catwalk, and today it is operated as part of the Whitewater Canyon National Forest Recreation Area. Today it is the site of the one-mile Catwalk National Recreation Trail.

Should you decide to venture to the Catwalk, the USDA sites a few tips that may be of value:

The Catwalk Trail is 1.10 miles in length (one way) and should take an average of 1 to 1.5 hours to hike round trip.

(If small children are with you, this time can increase dramatically! Bring your own snacks or picnic as there are no vendors or services)

A relatively long section of the trail is uphill (with a maximum grade of 8%).

This deeply cut volcanic canyon can funnel water and is susceptible to flash flooding. Watch for the high-water markers along the trail. If visiting in monsoon season, please be aware of weather conditions.

Dogs are allowed on the trail if they are on a leash.

Appropriate footwear is advised. Sandals and flip-flops are not suitable for hiking the trail.

Rattlesnakes, coati, squirrels and other animals are found in the canyon. Do not feed the animals, they may bite.

Poison Ivy is present in areas along the trail.

Watch for falling rock, especially after heavy rains.


photo by Light Benders Photography

All in all the Catwalk is an otherwise unimaginable experience. Flora and fauna, lush greens contrasting the outer desert terrain make this a little world all its own. Pack your favorite picnic and plan to spend the day. Don't forget the camera because you might even see a bighorn sheep, and be sure to stop and listen to the tales blowing on the breeze as stories of old echo off the canyon walls.

Note: The Catwalk

In 1889 silver and gold was discovered in the Mogollon Mountains above Whitewater Canyon, just outside of Glenwood. Several mines were developed, and ore was hauled in wagons to a mill at the mouth of the Canyon. The town of Graham was founded in the mountains, and water was needed to operate the electric generators. It came from a pipeline reaching up into the Canyon, and was held onto the rock walls of the Canyon with timbers and iron bars that were in constant need of maintenance. Workmen dubbed it the Catwalk, and today it is operated as part of the Whitewater Canyon National Forest Recreation Area. Today it is the site of the one-mile Catwalk National Recreation Trail.

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