Friday, March 11, 2016

Hike Report: Brantly Lake State Park (New Mexico)

During our stay at Brantley Lake State Park outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, we hiked the short trail there that goes from the campground to the Visitor Center and back. The trail is 1.6 miles long, so it is 3.2 miles round trip.

We found the trailhead at the east end of the campground. The trail is very level and an easy trail. Just over a quarter of a mile, the trail crosses the park road just west of the trailer dump station. It then continues over a typical Chihuahuan Desert landscape to the Visitor Center. The section of Brantley Lake next to the dam is visible throughout the hike, as is the long earthen dam. There are several information kiosks along the trail as well as roughly two dozen numbered markers that identify animal prints. I would guess that there may be a pamphlet at the Visitor Center that details the markers and provides information about the tracks. Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was not open at any time we visited it, so I can't say for sure.

We watched storm clouds to the west and north as they gathered, especially on the return leg of the hike. Just after getting back to the trailer, we did get a few drops of rain. The lake, by the way, appears to me to be very low, as are many lakes in the American West. However, since I've never been to the lake before, I can't say for sure.

Below are some pictures I took of the hike.

Trailhead for the trail in the east section of the campground.

This little cottontail was along the trail and posed for this picture. We saw numerous rabbits, road runners, and other small critters during our stay in the park.

This picture near the trailhead shows several things. First, notice the earthen dam in the distance. Also, you can see the trail in the foreground, but look near the left center of the picture just below the dam to see more of the trail in the distance. The three poles are some of the numbered markers I mentioned in the text above.

Dam and low water of the lake.

Look closely to the left of the end of the dam and you'll see a cluster of trees. This is the Visitor Center and our destination.

This is where the trail crosses the park road just west of the dump station.

One of the information kiosks along the trail.

The Visitor Center was never open during our stay.

The trailhead at the Visitor Center, with storm clouds dancing in the distance.

One of the numerous numbered trail markers. At the base of each marker is a set of animal tracks.

The campground as we approached it at the end of the hike.

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