Hidden Valley Beer Hike
Hidden Valley is one of a handful of hikes into New Mexico’s Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) that doesn’t require driving onto the Preserve. The roads into the VCNP have been closed during the coronavirus restrictions of the past many weeks so it was cool to see this hike mentioned in a Facebook post that scrolled by me when I was thinking on where to head for a nice beer hike. Don’t know what a beer hike is all about? Find out more by reading here.
I’m blessed to live near the VCNP and take advantage of the hiking and scenery of the place, The VCNP is 140 square miles (36,000+ Hectares) of mountains, forest, canyons, river valleys, and grassland occupying a large part of the13+ mile (21+ km) diameter collapsed caldera of an ancient supervolcano. There are twenty supervolcanos in the world and the Valles Caldera is one of three located in the U.S.A. (the others are Yellowstone and Long Valley in eastern California.) The terrain ranges between 8,000 and 12,000 feet in altitude (2400 to 3600 m) from the valley floor to the highest peaks.
The post-hike beer today was a Heyzeus Mexican-style lager from Melvin Brewing in Alpine, Wyoming. It was a nice reward for sure – light, hazy appearance; nice body and smooth, creamy mouthfeel; there was a faint citrusy taste that struck me as definitely hop induced; clean, dry finish. When it said Mexican-style lager I expected something thinner without much taste or complexity, but that wasn’t the case at all. I was pleasantly surprised and would buy this one again.
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Hidden Valley Hike
The hike to Hidden Valley begins at a small, unmarked parking area along New Mexico State Highway 4. The trail loops in both directions from there and either direction requires a short climb up over a burned off ridge. The burn was about ten years ago and there are thick Aspen groves emerging among the downed trees. The burn area ends as you crest the ridge and descend through a thick forest of Douglas Fir.
After a short, steep drop is the floor of Hidden Valley. The refreshing looking East Fork of the Jemez River meanders through the grassy valley floor. There are intermittent stock paths on both sides of the river, but there is no one well-defined trail to continuously follow. We crossed the river back and forth multiple times as we tramped upstream. As the stream meanders, it cuts up to cliff and boulder faces on either side of the river multiple times so you are faced with a choice of wading, trying to find a fallen log, or climbing over the obstruction. I ‘d recommend that you bring water shoes as there are plenty of shallow places to ford by wading.
This is a totally pleasant, scenic out and back into the grassland expanse of the Valle Grande – one of the huge grassland expanses in the Valles Caldera. Our turn-around point was what is known as the “Missing Cabin”, a photogenic structure on a prominent hill overlooking the Valle Grande. It is known as the Missing Cabin because it was prominent in the 2003 Ron Howard feature film “The Missing.”
For more stories about hikes and beers in New Mexico, CLICK THIS LINK.