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Date of visit:
February 18, 2000

For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
 Location of Cloud-Climbing Rail Trail ...
 

We rate this site a:

Site Highlights:
 Scenic drive
 Few visitors in winter
 No entry fee
 Off the beaten track
 Train depot rebuilt
 Great hiking
 View trestles
 View rail right-of-way
 View White Sands
 Great picnic areas
 Cool high altitude
 Eat at "The Lodge"

 Kachina

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Go to second half of day trip - The Solar Observatory

From Desert to Sky:
The Cloud Climbing Rail Trail
Planning the hike
Planning the hike

Snorts of fire breathing, smoke-belching steam locomotives no longer echo in the Sacramento Mountains. For years, an overgrown roadbed and a few scattered trestles provided the only clues that rugged little trains once pulled loads of logs and passengers between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft on the Cloud-Climbing Route.

Today, visionaries and volunteers of the New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association are transforming the right-of-way into a unique pathway to outdoor enjoyment, inspiration and recreation. Visitors can once again discover the magnificent scenery and panoramic views along the Cloud-Climbing Rail Trail.

In the 1800's, railroads provided a major transportation link throughout the West. Railroads, however, cannot be built without lumber for cross0ties. Casting eager eyes on the vast timber stands of the Sacramentos, the Eddy brothers hired the country's best mountain railroad engineer to build the Alamogordo & Sacramento Mountain Railway.

Mexican Trestle
Remnants of the Mexican Trestle

For 26 miles, the railroad climbed nearly 4,000 feet, winding along ridges, clinging to ledges, creaking across canyons on sturdy wooden trestles. For a time, scheduled excursion trains supplemented railroad revenues by carrying passengers to the fledgling community of Cloudcroft. As the train climbed the precipitous canyon walls, spectacular views unfolded around every bend, treating passengers to vistas of desert, mountains and sky.

Within 50 years, a new highway and the upstart internal combustion engine caused the decline of the railroad. In 1947, the line was torn up and sold as scrap.

The Cloud Climbing Route lay abandoned but not forgotten for another half-century. What was a steep and crooked path for a railroad is now a wide and easy path for hikers, mountain-bikers and cross-country skiers. In some places, the trail offers barrier-free access.

The Trestle Trail...

A short barrier-free trail leads from the Depot Replica to a scenic point.

The trestle trail is a moderate 2.5-mile trail offering inspirational vistas, deeply shadowed old growth forest and a close look at the landmark Mexican Canyon Trestle. Trail markers identify plants and tress along the way.

Most of the trail is moderately easy. The section that descends into the canyon is steep, offering a rewarding challenge.

Site Gallery
 
 A  hiker  Depot replica  The "S" Trestle
 The "S" Trestle remnants  The "S" Trestle remnants  The Mexican Trestle
 Overlooking the basin  Who is this man? Can you still hear the far-off steam whistle?
 
 
For More Information
Rails of Cloudcroft
Cloudcroft, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce Home Page
The "Lodge" at Cloudcroft

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