Pine Tree Trail — OMDP NM, Las Cruces, NM

Pine Tree Trail has been (rightfully) purported to be one of the premier hikes in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP) in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Loop hikes are of a special appeal; and a trail that provides an opportunity to experience new terrain with each step coupled with significant canopy is especially attractive. The trailhead starts at the Aguirre Springs Campground and the hike is fairly well marked.


Moon setting over the needles of the Organ Mountains

Pine Tree Trail Sign

Appropriate caveats are provided.

Warning Sign

The trail gained 1000 feet in elevation via gradual switchbacks around the edge of a depression created by Anvil and Sotol Creeks.

The needles as seen from the trail

The trail upward traversed lush vegetation, occasional rocky (dry) riverbeds, with some melt-off (in early May) noted seeping through some rocks. Varied wild flowers (Apache Plume and Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)) and ferns are evident on the trail.

River bed with some water

Beautiful Apache Plume

Indian Blanket Gallardia

A rock squirrel provided the requisite wildlife sighting!

Squirrel posing for the picture

Boulders along the path required some occasional negotiation.

Boulders along the path

The hollowed base of a dead tree conjured imagines of forest trolls!!
Spooky hollowed tree

The treeless expanse of Sugarloaf to the south was occasionally visible.
Sugarloaf Mountain

To the east, White Sands Missile Range came into intermittent view.
White Sands Missile Range

A primitive camp located at the top of the trail offered comfortable seating (note horizontal log!). Signage provided the reassurance that the hike was halfway complete!

Primitive camp; no amenities

Sign Marks Camp Location

White Sands National Monument is clearly seen on the descent, but the trail still remains fairly well-forested.

White Sands National Monument just below horizon

Completing the second half of the hike in a fraction of the time of the ascent, Pine Tree Trail definitely warranted favored hike status in the OMDP!!

Another picture of the trail

The Majesty of Trees

As readers of JBRish know, my wife and I enjoy hiking and one of the things we appreciate is the beauty of trees. Trees have always fascinated me. To think that there are trees alive today that have been on earth during some of the most historic periods such as the American Revolution, The Renaissance, etc. is awe inspiriing.

Beth Moon has created a wonderful book detailing a good number of these stoic trees in her book, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time.

(Above)“Avenue of the Baobabs. Elegant in shape and form, these strange and magnificent baobabs seem to rise effortlessly to heights of 98 feet, found only on the island of Madagascar. Beth Moon

Kapok Tree,  Beth Moon, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time

(Above)“Kapok Tree. Palm Beach, Florida, 2004. Kapoks of this size usually inhabitant the rain forest, but Moon found this one in Florida on a private estate, with roots that rise 12 feet above the ground. Beth Moon

More modest appreciation, however, comes from the beauty and majesty we have witnessed on our walks and hikes. We often wonder how a few of the trees we saw managed to survive in some of the most unusual ways and perhaps in less than ideal conditions.

Even in death, trees have a majesty about them. The picture below was taken at Monument Valley, UT.

dead tree, spooky, Monument Valley, Utah

While hiking Point Reyes National Seashore, CA last summer, we came across this Bay Tree with a cluster of branches and roots at the base. I was interested in the unusual girth.


Another tree we found of special interest this past year was at the Grand Teton National Park. Trees will often gain a foothold and because of their “ill-chosen” location, the earth around their roots is washed away. These are sometimes called “walking trees” because it does appear as though the trees have legs.

This tree, as you can see, lost its foothold and will probably not survive too much longer although it is hanging in there.

tree Grand Teton National Park Walking Tree Tree roots exposed

Read More about the book and Beth Moon at the Huffington Post: The Most Ancient and Magnificent Trees From Around the World. More of Beth Moon’s pictures can be found at the above link.