About Minetop Trail #54

Trailhead for Minetop Trail #54, at fork in an old mining road. Take the left fork.

Socorro, New Mexico, sits at the foot of the Socorro Mountains. You might think that trail running options would be abundant. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Socorro’s New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) houses the Energetic Materials Research And Testing Center. “Energetic Materials”, in this case, means explosives. The Center uses the mountains to test these materials, which sometimes fail to ignite. Faced with a mountainside of unexploded ordinance, what is a runner to do?

The option presented here is to run the rugged terrain of the Chupadera Hills, southwest of the City. This can be done on BLM lands, open to the public. There are miles of BLM roads. Additionally, an abandoned mining road has been groomed for runners, hikers and mountain bikers. This trail gains about 500 feet in just-under one mile. The map below shows some of the options for using the BLM roads and the new trail.

The groomed portion of the trail is shown in yellow. Options abound for extending this along BLM roads. For example, you could make a 1.6 mile (one way) stretch by starting at the corral on the main BLM road. This extension is shown in orange on the map. Alternatively, you could make a 2.7 mile (one way) stretch by starting at the memorial building on the main BLM road. This option is shown in red.

Turn-about at the highpoint of the Minetop Trail, Socorro Mountains in the distance.

There are a few things to know about this trail.

  • First, there is no shade. During the warmer months it is advisable to do your training in the cool of the morning.
  • Second, this is desert terrain. Watch for burrs, thorns and animal life that rattles.
  • Third, the surrounding terrain is contracted out for grazing rights. Cattle often graze alongside this trail. They are well-adapted to the presence of humans, but we do ask that you slow down as you go past them. Particularly in drought years the cattle can be under considerable stress.
  • The trail and roads are on a clay base – in wet weather the mud will cake up on your shoes pretty quickly.
  • Driving directions for the trailhead can be found here

Driving to Minetop Trail #54

View of turn onto the unsigned road (immediately past the end of the guardrail)

In Socorro, New Mexico, at the intersection of Spring Street and US-60, go west to head out of town on US-60.

After 5.8 miles, about a third of a mile past mile marker 133, look for an unsigned road at the end of the guard rail on the left side of US-60. Turn left onto the unsigned road. USGS maps label this road “Chupadera Loop”, so that’s what this site will call it.

Chupadera Loop is paved for about 50 feet then crosses a cattle guard and turns to dirt. From there it drops steeply to a small gully. Above the gully is a white “micro building” that looks as if it may be a memorial. If you want to run the 2.7 mile stretch to Minetop Hill then find a place to park here.

Corral on the side of Chupadera Loop.

Others should veer left to stay on Chupadera Loop. The road rises gently and then falls, arriving at a corral after 1.1 miles. If you want to run the 1.6 mile stretch to Minetop Hill then find a place to park here.

Cattle guard and right-hand turn from Chupadera Loop onto the mining road

Others should stay on Chupadera Loop as it climbs a rise, drops into a wash (where the road can be rough) and then rises to cross a cattle guard. Just past the cattle guard an old mining road comes in from the right. Turn onto the mining road.

Trailhead at the fork in the mining road.

After 0.25 miles on the mining road come to a fork. This is the Minetop Trail trailhead. Park here. You can ascend Minetop by either fork. Most runners will take the left fork, which has been raked out. The right fork is thick with fist-sized (and larger) rock.

Caution: The roadbed for Chupadera Loop has a considerable clay content. After rains it may become quite soft. You might want to choose another destination if the weather has been wet.