The Best Silver City Hiking Trails

By Kirsten Lalli , last updated January 8, 2012

The state of New Mexico has become well-known for its hiking trails and Silver City is no exception. It is home to some of the best hiking trails that America has to offer making it a must-see for hiking enthusiasts. There are maintained trails as well as abandoned ones, the latter which could provide an extra sense of adventure.

Gila National Forest

Gila National Forest, one of the country’s biggest forest reserves is situated in New Mexico and is close to Silver City. Its 3.3 million acres offers hundreds of trails for hikers and mountain bikers. The Forest starts from the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert and ends where the alpine tundra starts. Hikers will experience some of the best scenery and environment that the Southwestern United States has to offer, for the forest is very dense and abundant with wildlife. There are several historic routes in the forest, such as the Catwalk and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails. With both level terrain and steep climbs, the Gila National Forest provides hiking opportunities for both experienced and novice hikers.

The Continental Divide and Catwalk Trails

The Continental Divide trail is one of the most popularly taken by hikers in the region. It is called a ‘shuttle’ trail because the hiker is advised to park his or her car at the ending access point and begin hiking from there. It is a point-to-point hike. This trail is so large that it is divided into several segments. It is advised to take along plenty of food and water since other people and supplies will be few and far between during the hike. The duration of hiking each segment is around 4 to 5 hours.

The Catwalk trail is one of the most beautiful trails that Silver City has to offer. The trail goes along Whitewater Canyon and Mimbres River Valley. It is under conservation by the government and is one of the best places for bird watching in the state.

Purgatory Chasm

The Purgatory Chasm trail is relatively short but very popular amongst hikers. It is around 2.2 miles and goes around in a loop. It is an all-year trail and has an elevation gain of around 91 meters, putting it in the ‘easy’ category.

Caves and Melanie Hot Springs

Caves is an ‘out and back’ trail located near Silver City. It is around 2.3 miles long and takes 4 hours to complete. The trail is safely accessible from the months of April to November and is recommended for beginners.

The Melanie Hot Springs is another hiking track with the added attraction of seeing hot springs along the way. At around 5 miles it is a long hike and hence is in the ‘moderate’ category of trails.

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