Grindstone Lake Trail
ElevationAscent: 893' 272 m
Descent: -882' -269 m
High: 7,373' 2,247 m
Low: 6,907' 2,105 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)
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“A moderate, pleasant loop around a mountain canyon and lake.”— Brendan Ross
The trailhead is at the back of the parking lot north of Grindstone Lake. The path is mostly smooth dirt singletrack with a few large rocks to navigate. The first mile and a half alternates between forested and open areas; the treeless sections can be gusty during the windy season. Watch for a few hidden uneven segments, where underlying rocks are covered by dirt. A nice overlook of the canyon and lake can be had near the half mile point. A large clearing near the mile marker makes a great spot to watch the sun rise. From here, the trail begins a steady climb.
A signed turnoff for the excellent Alfred Hale Connector is found soon after. Most of the rocks begin to fade from the path, giving way to smooth dirt and pine needles. As the trail turns south around two miles in, it opens up to stellar views of Grindstone Lake and the city of Ruidoso. The southwest corner of the trail marks its high point, and it begins to descend in a series of curves and switchbacks. The path passes around a number of gullies before merging briefly into a gravel road around the three and three quarter mile point.
The eastern end of Grindstone Ridge Connector is shortly ahead and to the right. The Lake Trail continues a hundred feet after, on the left. Look for a large arrow made of stones pointing in the right direction. For the next two miles the trail clings to the hillside, circling above small valleys rising up from the lake, which is occasionally visible below. The path follows a number of easy up and down segments as it goes, followed by the final descent to the water around the five mile point.
The eastern turnoff for Grindstone Ridge Trail can be found shortly into the descent, marked by a sign. Two long switchbacks follow, and the lake fully comes into view. The route then turns west to circle the water as it flattens out, passing a connector to Fisherman's Trail. Keep left to stay on the main path.
A series of tight hairpins then connects to a gravel road at the six and a quarter mile point. After a short distance on the road, the trail picks up once more on the left side, climbing briefly before completing the loop a short distance from the parking lot.
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Land Manager: USFS - Lincoln National Forest Office