Features: Fall Colors — Lake — Views — Wildflowers
The Grindstone Lake trail system is popular among hikers, runners, bikers, and the occasional horseback rider, particularly in the summer months. Use caution when sharing the trail with other users.
The Grindstone Ridge Connector runs near the border of the Lincoln National Forest and Mescalero Indian Reservation, with unique views of lakes and forests in both. Starting on the western end, it breaks off from the Grindstone Mesa Loop
at a signed intersection and large rock cairn. Initially bumpy, it soon smooths to a well-cushioned dirt path, with several small up and down sections to keep the route interesting.
Look to the right passing the half mile point. A fantastic view of Mescalero Lake, Cienegita Canyon, and the Inn of the Mountain Gods opens up below, a sight few visitors to Ruidoso get to experience. Shortly afterwards, the Ridge Connector crosses a dirt access road and enters into a heavily shaded section. While providing relief from the hot New Mexican sun in the warmer months, this area can become thick with snow accumulation during the winter. It also is a magnet for fallen trees, so be sure to look ahead and plan for any necessary diversions.
A signed intersection with the Grindstone Ridge Trail is at the one mile point. Continuing ahead, the trail makes a series of descending switchbacks, which can be a tough climb if taking the connector in the opposite direction. Keep an eye out for fast-moving mountain bikers in this area, as some sections of the trail can be obscured. A view of Grindstone Lake opens up as the path takes a slow descent into the canyon.
A few more switchbacks and descents follow throughout the rest of the route. Knee high grass occasionally covers the path in a few sections, but it is generally easy to locate by continuing forward.
The Grindstone Ridge Connector ends at a wide gravel access road. Exiting the trail here, a sign points the way towards Grindstone Lake Trail
. For some reason, there is no sign on the other side of the post for the Ridge Connector, so if beginning the trail on this side, look across the road from the large stone arrow for the Lake Trail. The singletrack is visible near the side of the hill.