Whether I’m hiking or mountain biking, Cloudcroft is my top spot to escape the West Texas Summer heat. Nestled up in the Sacramento Mountains high above the desert, this is where I enjoy a glorious view of White Sands in the far distance before starting out on my favorite trek—Trestle Trail. What a sublime scene it is.
The area’s elevation and closely woven pine trees offer immediate relief from the West Texas heat. As I descend the winding trail, the air cools almost to a chill. Vegetation becomes denser and more varied, with clusters of vines clinging to any support they can find. The murmur and trickles of water can be heard as streams make their way to the high canyon floor. The sights and sounds are calming. This is beauty in nature at its best.
This trail is not to be rushed, as it is here that nature awakens the senses to its idyllic beauty, its euphonic natural sounds, its savory green and earthy scents. The treat at the end of Trestle is to lie in the tall wispy grasses at the bot- tom, without a care for anything awaiting outside these mountain walls. Its as if the world slows; the roller coaster of life comes to a halt, even if for a brief moment in time.
The village of Cloudcroft and its environs lie within Lincoln National Forest, a protected forest in New Mexico that encompasses more than a million acres. The forest is birthplace of Smokey Bear—known to generations of children as the embodiment of forest fire prevention—the forest was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln.
The name Cloudcroft, which means a pasture for the clouds, suggests the area’s high elevation compared to that of the surrounding Chihuahua Desert. The town of Cloudcroft was put on the map in 1898, when a railroad crew discovered that the area wasn’t just an accessible source of timber—it was a place that could attract visitors. If you visit at the weekend, you’ll immediately be met with a throng of other visitors.
In the winter, Cloudcroft offers sports such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Winter or sum- mer, the area confounds the expectations of those who believe the Southwest is invariably hot and dry.
Pack your hiking shoes, pull out your walking stick, wheel out your mountain bike or rent a cabin to extend your stay.