This trip loops around Window Rock but does not use the standard route on trail 405 (Lemitas Trail) but instead climbs the mesa to the North and parallels that trail until it joins it in the meadow below Window Rock near Abiqiui. One could do a side trip to the arch on this hike (we did not). It then goes around the back of the basaltic dike that forms Window Rock, and returns to the trailhead via Arroyo del Palacio. Hell’s Gate is visited on the way.
Arroyo del Palacio is quite scenic, so much so that the USFS is putting up trail signs. We saw several new ones. This time of year, with a wet Fall, and with little foot traffic, the surface is firm and makes for easy walking, that is except for the rincons, which slows progress. Our original route would have added miles if we had taken the Arroyo to it’s terminus so we cut cross country which is surprisingly easy and more interesting the the arroyo slog. This put us at 11.19 miles, 1125 feet of ascent, and hike time of 6 hours. We were SK Lund and John Blakey.
This hike will be listed again here or in the SWELL Meetup.