Devils Den Trail


A Patchwork of Adjoining Federal Agency Jurisdictions

When I went to hike more of the Devils (or Devil's) Den trail and got rained out in early August I followed the main road to Dog Canyon, part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  

While there I asked the very nice Park Ranger where Devils Den Canyon came out and the trail came down to the highway.  He did not know, said that was National Forest land and I needed to go check with the US Department of Agriculture's local National Forest Service Rangers, they would know.  

I did that. All these land-management agencies have offices in Carlsbad, New Mexico, aka: home.  And the Forest Service Rangers knew of the trail, two of them, but neither had personally been on it (Lincoln National Forest is huge!).  But they had heard that it ends abruptly and stops where it faces a very steep drop.

They sold me a map book.  Very nice.  But where Devils Den Canyon is concerned it is way out of date even though brand new.  They were talking about a part of Trail 202 (T202) that is not on the map they just sold me, it is abandoned.  And now there is a 'new' T202 which starts at Five Points Vista but it is not on the map.  It is not particularly new, it is primitive, not cleared and manicured.

Googled Devils Den Canyon again and came up with this description of a Devil's Den Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. A third federal agency.  All three agencies are part of the US Department of the Interior.  

This description is accurate.  It starts you out to explore the WSA from the place I had started before, on Forest Service lands:

Although the advice is good and the location description is good, several details in this description seem just a bit off.  

2015 CORRECTION:  This map is so out of date it does not show a new fenceline dividing public lands from private lands, a fence that runs roughly along the 6000 foot level.  Just above where the word "Devils" appears there is a ridge parallel to the main escarpment.  That ridge and its immediate surroundings IS the WSA!  As the BLM website cited above says, the trail dead-ends at the top of that lower ridge!

"Trail #202: The Devil's Den trail is approximately 1 mile long. It begins at Forest Road 3008 and dead ends in the canyon past the springs about 1 mile later. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, Horseback Riding"

"Trail #200: The Indian trail is 0.8 miles long. It begins at Forest Road 540 and ends at Forest Road 540. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, Horseback Riding.

So both the map book and the web site are out of date.  Calling some of these trails "infrequently maintained" is an overstatement.

This is the canyon we are (1) going to first approach from below, (2) then explore from within, and (3) then look at from above:

WARNING: what is T202 on the map, if you start from where the map shows it to intersect FR540, the trail is abandoned and the lower portions of it are very hard, if not impossible, to find!


HIKE ONE: Walking down, and back up, T 202:

Part 2: Walking down from Guadalupe Ridge on Trail 202

Part 3: Losing Trail 202 and meeting a fence

Part 4: Looking for the trail coming from Devils Den Canyon

Part 5: Returning via the same route

HIKE TWO: Walking down T200 through the canyon (for a first look at the canyon from the top, go to this page):

Part 6: Entering Devils Den Canyon from above

Part 7: Walking through Devils Den Canyon

Part 8: Meeting the trail coming up to Devils Den Canyon from below

Part 9: Clouds, showers, and a dedication.

HIKE THREE: Walking Trail 202 from Five Points Vista

Part 10: What about that Trail 202 sign at Five Points Vista?

Part 11: A walk on Trail 202 from Five Points Vista

Part 12: Devils Den Canyon vistas from near Trail 202

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