It's too hot around Las Cruces. This hike heads up to high altitude (topping out at just below 10,000 ft) and is mostly in the shade and cool mountain air.
I've done all of the approaches up to the Crest Trail from Three Rivers except for the Barbar Ridge/Goat Canyon route. Both of these trails are a bit out of the way and are not used much. Once we get to the top of the ridgeline, we'll be walking along the Crest and Three Rivers trails, which are heavily trafficked. All of these trails are forest service trails, though since I've not been on some of them I don't know their condition.
• Start at Three Rivers Trail (T44) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=34574&actid=50), walk less than ¼ mi
• Meet the Barbar Ridge Trail (T49) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=34464&actid=50), walk 1.5 mi
• Meet the Goat Canyon Trail (T47) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=34496&actid=50), walk up to the ridgeline 2.5 mi
• Meet the Crest Trail (T25) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=34482&actid=50), walk south along ridge, up White Horse Hill, for about 2 mi
• Meet top end of Three Rivers Trail, and head back down to cars (6.1 mi)
Total hike is on the order of 12.5 mi.
I have not done this particular route before, but have been both the start and end of it. If we encounter lightning, we will abort the route immediately and back down the treeline.
Please bring adequate food and water (it will definitely be wet everywhere, but I'm unsure whether we'll encounter anything that is running).
If you are a guest of the United States (i.e. non-citizen), there is a US Customs & Border Patrol checkpoint demarcating passage to/from what the ACLU calls a "Constitution-Free Zone" (http://www.aclu.org/national-security_technology-and-liberty/are-you-living-constitution-free-zone). If this bothers you, please donate to the ACLU (https://www.aclu.org/donate/join-renew-give) and harass your congress critters (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml); otherwise please bring appropriate documentation of your entry into the US (passports, visas, etc—you know better what you need than we do). Group hikes are not the place to make a stand for your civil liberties.
DISTANCE is ~12.5 mi round-trip.
ELEVATION GAIN is ~4000 ft gained, topping 10,000 ft.
FEES: None. Of course, if you carpool, please compensate your driver for gas!
DURATION: All day, but back to cars before dark. Please do not expect less!
PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Bring a muzzle (you shouldn't need be told to bring a proper leash), and if you'd like to unleash, ask others before you do so.
SKILL LEVEL is *NOT* beginner friendly. No whiners!
TERRAIN is (mostly) well-maintained forest service trail, trekking through high desert and alpine forest. At the top of the ridgeline is exposed, mountain tundra and grassland.
WEATHER is 20% chance of rain (which means it's a definite). Check the weather at the trail head. (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-105.88258&lat=33.40195)
ROAD CONDITION is paved until Three Rivers (town) on US 54. We'll turn onto a maintained dirt road for 17 mi to the trail head. Road is rough but otherwise 2WD friendly.
AFTERWARDS we may stop for dinner in Tularosa, if we finish early enough (Tulie Cafe?).
MEET for carpool at:
• Las Cruces: 7:30 am, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=32.35083,-106.76538&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.35083&mlon=-106.76538&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.35083,-106.76538&marker0=32.35083,-106.76538&z=18)).
• Tularosa Travel Center/Shell: 8:30 am. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=33.06304,-106.01571&z=16), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=33.06304&mlon=-106.01571&zoom=16), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=33.06304,-106.01571&marker0=33.06304,-106.01571&z=16))
• Three Rivers Campground: 9:30 am. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=33.40195,-105.88258&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=33.40195&mlon=-105.88258&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=33.40195,-105.88258&marker0=33.40195,-105.88258&z=18)). Do NOT meet here if you don't know where it is!