Hikes on May 17th

Saturday Hikes

South Baldy Hike

Will take place from approximately 8:00am-5:00pm. Leader: Rick  Perley.

View of VLA from top of Baldy
View of VLA from top of South Baldy

The main hike will be to the top of South Baldy, the highest mountain in the Magdalena Mountains west of Socorro. The hike involves a 4000 ft (1220m) climb in about 7 miles from Water Canyon picnic area at 6800 ft (2070m) to the summit at 10,800 ft (3290m). At the top, there will be great views of the surrounding country including the VLA site. The summit area is the location of the Langmuir Laboratory which does lightning research, including firing rockets trailing wires into thunderstorms, and of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO), which has an operational 2.4 meter telescope, and is building an optical interferometer.  We have arranged for tours of all three facilities.  Lunch will be provided at the MRO.

Two versions of the hike will be offered.  The first is to follow the road all the way from Water Canyon campground to the MRO interferometer, (with an optional side-trip to the summit),  a total of about 8.5 miles.  This option allows for vehicle pickup at any point in case of exhaustion.  The second follows the road for two miles, then follows trail #11.  This route reduces the distance by one mile, but offers no vehicular relief -- the only option is to walk down the trail to the road for pickup.  The road provides a steady, easier grade with a good surface.  The trail is much steeper, with brush and a half dozen downed trees -- there is only infrequency trail maintenance.  For reference, the following table is offered:

PointDistance (miles)Elevation (ft)Elevation (m)
Water Canyon 0 6795 2071
Start Trail #11 2 7553 2302
Rejoin Road 3 (trail) 4 (road) 9936 3028
Baldy Summit 1.5 10790 3291
MRO Bldg 1 10480 3196

There will be vehicles keeping track of the hikers on the road, and providing rides to the top for those who do not wish to hike all the way.  You are welcome to come even if you know you will need a ride part way.   Anyone unsure of their ability, or wishing to hike at their own pace, fast or slow, should take the road.   The route decision need not be made until you reach the trail head -- 2 miles up the road. 

As people complete the tours of the research facilities at the summit, they are encouraged to walk back down, but rides will also be offered.

Note that this is a long hike in dry country (although it is forested). The top of the mountain is completely devoid of trees.  It can be hot, and you will need a lot of fluid.  Rain -- although very unlikely -- is possible, even if the skies are clear in the morning, so you should be ready for that.  If there is a threat of lightning, we will stay off the exposed areas.

Bring for hike

  1. Decent shoes. Runners are fine, but not flip-flops.
  2. At least 2 liters of drinks.
  3. Snacks.
  4. Sunscreen.   The UV index easily exceeds 10 at these elevations
  5. A light coat or sweater. It can be cold, and will definitely be windy, on top.
  6. Hat. If the forecast contains any hint of clouds, a rain jacket would be useful!
  7. A pack to carry the above.
  8. Your name badge. We will collect them at the start, and return them at the end. Any left over tells us who we lost.


Bosque Del Apache Hike

Will take place from approximately 9:00am-1:00pm. Leader: Eric Greisen.

Bosque Canyon
Bosque Canyon

A hike will also be offered in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro. This hike will be much shorter and easier than the South Baldy hikes, although, at the low elevations, it could be rather hot. The refuge is known for the large number of birds that winter there. In May, there will be fewer, but the hike will be led by an avid birder so you should see some. The hike will be on the Canyon Trail which goes through some sandstone canyons that are common in the southwestern US but are likely quite different from the terrain that most people know.

Bring for hike

  1. Decent shoes. Runners are fine, but not flip-flops or sandals, the trail can get sandy.
  2. At least 1 liter of drinks.
  3. Suncream. A lot of UV gets through at this altitude.
  4. Hat



Box lunches will be provided for the hikes.  For the Baldy hike you can either pick up the box lunch at the bottom and take them with you or get it once you get to the top.  If you have special dietary needs you must go on the hike you signed up for to be provided with a lunch.