Smith Spring Trail
It was really cold this morning — 27-degrees — so we were a bit slow to get started on a hike.
Around eleven we headed to the Frijoles Ranch and took the Smith Springs Trail. The ranch was the home of the Smith family who farmed here starting in the early 1900s. They gardened and planted an orchard — carting their produce 60 miles to Van Horn, the closest town. The NPS has done a great job of restoring the home into a museum (not open today). The home was located here because of a number of springs in the area. The NPS has also replanted the Smiths’ orchard with the same varieties they grew 100-years ago.
The trail took us first to a large pond called the Manzanita Spring. During the Smiths era, they dredged the pond and used it for paddling and swimming. Until we reached this spring, the path was paved and wheelchair accessible. From there we had a gravel and dirt trail which took us up into the canyon (300 feet elevation change over a mile) to the Smith Spring — a substantial spring shaded by madrone, juniper, oak, and maple. A true oasis in a yucca, dry grass, and cactus covered area.
The walk back was an easy downhill trail with views of the Chihuahuan Desert with a tall hill, called the Nipple, dominating the view. Our 2.6 mile hike ended with a late lunch at the van.