This is a short loop hike that's easy to get to, well signed, part shaded, and only gains 500 feet in 2.5 miles.
As always, have sun protection and lots of water if you attempt this in the summer heat. In late summer, watch the weather. A monsoon storm might suddenly be upon you in the afternoon. If there is lighting, descend immediately.
There are also a fair amount of mountain bikers going up and down this trail, be aware and conscious of them to avoid any accidents.
Begin at the Otero Trailhead on Rt. 337. Head south on pavement which quickly switches to dirt as you veer left to the Otero Canyon Trail
. Otero Canyon Trail
goes in and out of shade as you gently ascend 300 feet on your way to Gnasty Trail
. At the turn, there are trail signs and also Air Force property warning signs. Please heed the signs for safety. At the trail junction, you make a sharp left and continue on Gnasty. Heavy use by mountain bikes has left deep ruts in places. Lots of loose rocks on the trail.
rises another 200 feet where you'll leave the shade and approach the height of land. As you travel eastward, there are great views of the area. Watch your footing; there are rocks and roots. Several improvised trails branch off without any signs. Best views from the loop are from Gnasty Trail
. If you stay on the paths showing heaviest use you'll get to the sign at intersection with Blue Ribbon Trail
Take a left turn on Blue Ribbon Trail
. The elevation will go up-and-down a little. After about 0.5 miles (3.6 mi. into the hike), you'll again reach the height of land before your 2.0 miles of descent. There will be plenty of trees around you but they don't provide any shade. Blue Ribbon Trail
drops you at the intersection where you took the Otero Canyon Trail
. Turn right (north) to return to your vehicle.
If I did this over again, I would not descend Blue Ribbon Trail
because of the annoying uneven loose rocks on the way down that threaten to twist an ankle. I would reverse course over the Gnasty Trail
and Otero Canyon Trail
. I cannot recall anything very interesting on this part of the loop that justifies the bad footing.