Outdoor Recreation PDF Print E-mail

Outdoor Recreation In and Around Socorro County


Besides being an exceptional institution for Science or Engineering education, New Mexico Tech is situated in an outstandingly diverse region of the southwest. Nearby opportunities for outdoor recreation include mountain and road biking, rock climbing, trail running, and desert and mountain hiking at elevations ranging from 4,600 to nearly 11,000 feet. Here is a brief sampling of some local and regional areas.


Mountain Biking around Socorro
Socorro and the surrounding area is great for mountain biking. At right is the "Socorro Single Track" mountain bike trail to the north of New Mexico Tech. Strawberry Peak is the distinctively shaped lava dome in the background. Check out the Socorro Striders and Riders for more information on local biking and running activities (like the annual Tour of Socorro Mountain Biking Races).  An online regional mountain biking guide can be found here.














The Quebradas Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands are directly across the Rio Grande, just minutes from New Mexico Tech, and include spectacular opportunities for mountain biking, camping, and hiking in a remote Chihuahuan desert setting. This remarkable region includes four Wilderness Study Areas.


Sierra de las Canas viewed from the Quebradas BLM Back Country Byway

Mountain bikers from around the southwest at the start of the 2007 Cerillos del Coyotes race on the Quebradas road east of Socorro

(M Mountain in background)



















Chupadera and Ladron Mountains
Immediately to the west of Socorro lie the volcanic Chupadera mountains and, further north, the dramatic granitic escarpment of the Sierra Ladrones. Notable hikes include the Chupadera Mountain trail in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the Chupadera Wilderness, the rugged (trail-less) climb to the 9,176-foot summit of Ladron Peak, and San Lorenzo Canyon. San Lorenzo Canyon lies at the southern boundary of the vast Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.



Sierra Ladrones BLM Wilderness Study Area north of Socorro

Approaching the mouth of San Lorenzo Canyon






Ruins at Quarai

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
Northeast of Socorro lie the three units of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira, which preserve historic pueblo and mission ruins occupied through the late 1600s. At left are the 17th century mission ruins at Quarai.









Cibola National Forest
The Magdalena District of the Cibola National Forest begins just a few miles west of Socorro, and includes the Magdalena, Bear, and San Mateo Mountains. The mountains span an astonishing range of life zones, from upper Chihuahuan desert to Pinon-Juniper forests, to ponderosa forests, to subalpine meadows and aspen groves. There are two National Forest wilderness areas in the San Mateo mountains, Withington and Apache Kid, which offer exceptional opportunities for hiking and camping. There are also numerous forest service roads and trails that are open to mountain biking. Each year, the Tour of Socorro includes a 4,000 foot vertical hill climb race from Water Canyon campground to the summit of South Baldy.





The Magdalena Crest


Strawberry peak and the 10,000 foot crest of the Magdalena Mountains viewed from the Quebradas BLM Back Country Byway (photo by Steve Ralser)




Mountain Biking to the 10,710-foot summit of South Baldy just west of Socorro

Mountain biking in the San Mateo Mountains





Sandhill cranes flying at the Bosque del Apache (photo by Peter Scholle)

Bosque del Apache
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a nationally known venue for bird and wildlife watching, photography, and hiking located just south of Socorro. Along with the Socorro Chamber of Commerce, it hosts the annual Festival of the Cranes, which draws over 10,000 visitors to the refuge each Autumn to greet tens of thousands of migratory birds.





Gila National Forest
Within a few hours drive lies the Gila National Forest, home of the world-renowned Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas (the Gila is perhaps best known for being the first federally designated wilderness area in the United States). The Gila encompasses over a million acres of outstanding road-less mountains, mesas, canyons, rivers, hot springs, archaeological resources, and the most biologically diverse forests in the American southwest.

A vista in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness




Climbing at Enchanted Tower

Box Canyon and Enchanted Tower Rock Climbing

There are two notable rock climbing areas near Socorro. Box Canyon is a (BLM) recreational area just minutes from town offering moderate-to-difficult climbing and bouldering in a steep volcanic canyon. The Enchanted Tower area is located near the rural community of Datil in the Cibola National Forest, about 1 hour west of Socorro. It includes spectacular sport-climbing routes on steep to very overhanging welded volcanic rock. Check out the NMT Climbing Club

Bob Broilo at Box Canyon






New Mexico is internationally known for outstanding caves. See the caving club web page for more information.

The NMT Caving Club at Cottonwood Cave in the Guadalupe Mountains






New Mexico Skiing, Snowboarding, and Mountaineering

New Mexico is justly famous for its downhill skiing and snowboarding. Ski Apache, Sandia Peak, and Ski Santa Fe are all within a few hours of Socorro, and Taos is about 1 hour further.

Ski Mountaineering in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Penitente Peak in background)

Jeff Johnson, Jake Ross, Bill McIntosh, and Matt Zimmer prepping for a ski descent is the Magdalena Mountains just outside of Socorro in March, 2010.





A winter ascent of Santa Fe Baldy.




Trail Running
New Mexico and surrounding states have a large trail running community, with regional events ranging from a few miles to world-renowned 100-mile races. Below are a few local trail files that can be downloaded and displayed with Google Earth.

Many trail and road runners in Socorro, as well as bikers, are members of Striders and Riders.


Socorro Area Desert and Rio Grande Routes

Chupadera Crossing Loop, Chupadera Mountains (11.1 miles; 5,200 - 6,030 feet); also a mountain bike loop.

Chupadera Double Cross, Chupadera Mountains (13.9 miles; 5,200 - 6,030 feet)

Chupadera Shrine to Summit (12.0 miles; 5,200 - 6,030 feet).

Quebradas Single Track (9.1 miles; 4,600 - 5,300 feet); also a mountain bike loop.

Barite Mine/Queradas/Single Track Loop (10.5 miles; 5,000 - 5,300 feet); yet another interesting rough road and arroyo running loop in the Quebradas region.

NMT to Owl Bar Run (13.4 miles; 4,480 - 4,670 feet); a great flat run next to the Rio Grande ending at San Antonio.

Socorro Loop (9.6 miles; 4,365 - 4,634 feet); loop around and through Socorro, including Socorro City trails along the Rio Grande.

Socorro Single Track (9.0 miles;; 4,511 - 5,046 feet); a popular local running and mountain biking loop (with many variations) at the edge of the NMT campus.

Chupadera Wilderness (8.9 miles; 4,475 - 6,237 feet); an out and back climb to the top of Chupadera Peak on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

Arroyo Tajo (6.3 miles; 4,800 - 5,236 feet); a scenic loop with a granite slot canyon in the Presilla Wilderness Study Area of the Quebradas.

Strawberry Peak (from IRIS PASSCAL/EMRTC road gate (15.7 miles; 4683 - 7017 feet; pictured below); A run/scramble or mountain bike/scramble to a spectacular local summit utilizing the Socorro Single Track. This is about a 19-mile round trip if you start from the main NMT campus.

Polvadera Mountain (5316 - 7306 feet; summit photo below); A beautiful mountain run with a cross-country ascent a few miles north of Socorro.

High Mountain Routes

Manzano Peak Loop, Manzano Mountains (11.0 miles; 7,100 - 10,100 feet; pictured below); rough and remote trails climbing to the summit of the Manzano Mountains.


Langmuir Road from Water Canyon Campground to South Baldy Summit and Return (16.0 miles; 6,740 - 10,710 feet); up to the top of Baldy and back on the road.

Six Mile Canyon, Magdalena Mountains (7.8 miles; 8,200 - 9,800 feet); a nice loop starting on the South Baldy Langmuir road.

Trail 11 loop, Magdalena Mountains (7.3 miles; 7,400 - 10,000 feet); another nice loop using the Langmuir road.

Mesa Trail, Magdalena Mountains (4.8 miles; 6,800 - 8,600 feet); a lower elevation loop from Water Canyon with some steep climbing.

Sandia Crossing (27 miles; 6,800 - 10,600 feet); a trail marathon that traverses the length of the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque.

Forest Road 505 (12.2 miles; 5,890 - 6,780 feet); a forest road and U.S. highway 60 loop along the Magdalena Mountains front with some great views.

Switch Spring/Withington Road Loop, San Mateo Mountains (11 miles; 7,615 - 9,327 feet); a scenic loop, including a single track trail segment through the Withington Wilderness.

Copper Canyon/Magdalena Crest Loop (8.7 miles; 7,010 - 10,271 feet); a loop to the crest of the Magdalena Mountains and back via a perenially watered canyon.

North to South Baldy (16.3 miles; 6,700 - 10,780 feet; pictured below); A long loop of the Magdelana Crest, beginning and ending at Water Canyon campground; descent via trail 11.



North Baldy to Langmuir Road with Descent into Hop Canyon (~23 miles; 6,700 - 10,500 feet); An even longer loop incorporating the Magdelana Crest, beginning and ending at Water Canyon campground with two major climbs. Descending on the Langmuir road.

San Mateo Peak (8.2 miles; 7,100 - 10,100 feet); An out-and-back run to the top of a peak in the Apache Kid Wilderness.

San Pedro Parks Wilderness (10.7 miles; 9,080 - 10,270 feet); A loop in the San Pedro Peaks Wilderness near Cuba, New Mexico.

Mount Withington via Monica, Bear Trap, Spring Hollow, and Chimney Canyons (21.2 miles; 7,550 - 10,100 feet) ; A gorgeous loop in the San Mateo Mountains with an off-trail section through Spring Hollow Canyon.

Forest Road 505 to Jordan Canyon to North Baldy to Water Canyon Loop  (16.4 miles; 6,390 - 9,850 feet) ; A traverse of the northern Magdalena Crest to the scenic summit of North Baldy on obscure old mining roads.

Langmuir Road from Water Canyon Campground to the summit of South Baldy and back  (16.0 miles; 6,730 - 10,710 feet) ; It's been run, biked and (in El Nino years) skied!

More Info
Check MapQuest for a map of Socorro. You can also Mapquest NMT's street address (801 Leroy Place) as well as Socorro, NM 87801.

For more information, here are some additional links: 
NMT Department of Tourism
New Mexico Tech Socorro Page
Desert USA's Socorro Page
Socorro Chamber of Commerce


Created: ( Tuesday, 05 April 2011 13:44 )
Last Updated: ( Monday, 24 September 2012 08:42 )
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