Manzanita - Smith Spring Loop
ElevationAscent: 390' 119 m
Descent: -389' -119 m
High: 5,918' 1,804 m
Low: 5,535' 1,687 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)
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“This loop offers a pleasant run through the Chihuahuan Desert.”— Liz
Beyond Manzanita Spring, the trail becomes more rugged turning to dirt and sandy singletrack. It begins to climb a shallow to moderate grade as it parallels a small wash. The Smith Spring Trail winds through the Chihuahuan Desert environment and you'll be able to see a variety of cactus, yucca, agave, snipers and the occasional small oak and scrub as you run along this trail. The trail is generally easy with mostly flat to small hills being the only obstacles that you'll need to navigate around. Take a moment to practice your navigation skills at the top of any of the small hills along the way!
As you cross the seasonal wash, the grade steepens, just for a moment and you'll find yourself in a clump of trees; this stark contrast to the rest of the trail provides an interesting visual break. At the high point of the trail (about 1.3 miles in), you will reach Smith Spring. This is a true oasis in the desert as the flowing spring creates a large pool in the shade of the trees. This is a fantastic spot to sit and wait for opportunities to witness wildlife such as birds and other mammals.
As you leave the spring you venture back into the desert environment, leaving the shade behind. Though there is no more shade to cool your brow, at least the rest of the run is generally downhill. At about 2.2 miles you'll pass the junction with Frijole Trail, followed shortly by Foothills Trail. Before you know it, you're back at the trailhead. Take a right on the road back to the museum. If you haven't already, spend some time wandering the museum learning about the history of the area.
There is a variety of cactus, yucca, agave, snipers and the occasional small oak and scrub.
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Land Manager: NPS - Guadalupe Mountains National Park