Manning  Canyon  summit(u)

The Tres Hermanas Mountains (Three Sisters) are a series of bold rock outcrops in New Mexico just north of the Mexican border. If the dessert has the sweeping quality of an ocean here, these mountains are like small islands in this tranquil sea. The higher Florida Mountains to the north have a more direct visual appeal, but it's easier to get a bike through the rock outcrops of the Tres Hermanas. This is a great little ride in mid February, which is ecspecially great fun when the news is dominated by snow storms in the Rockies, and north eastern blizzards. There is guaranteed no snow in this corner of New Mexico. Instead it's a fascinating landscape comprised of prickly pear cacti, Ocotillos, statue like trees and other hearty plants. Except for the initial turnoff, there are no signs of any type along the route. The name of the summit is derived from a label in the "Roads of New Mexico" atlas published by Shearer Publishing.

01.(mile00,4210ft) START-END EAST: jct NM11 - Lauterner Lane, north of Columbus
02.(mile03,4500ft) stay right for Manning Canyon
03.(mile06,5030ft) TOP
03.(mile08,4660ft) profile continues right, heading north
04.(mile14,4150ft) START-END WEST:  NM11 is to the right (east) from this dirt road crossing


From East. The dirt road turnoff from NM11 to this summit is opposite an old development that was to become a private air park hacienda (picture in photo page). Now signs advertise the sprawling arched motel walkways as the land of opportunity, which is for sale. The turnoff to Lauterner Lane is a few hundred yards north of the entrance to the old air park. You can't miss the entrance to the old air park. Looking through it you see a replica of an old plane used to chase Pancho Villa back into Mexico perched as foreground to the Florida Mountains.

Lauterner Lane heads gently up an expansive alluvial fan to the foot of the Tres Hermanas Mountains. As the main traffic on this road makes a right hand turn to two private homes, the route continues straight. A few hundred yards before the end of the road a double track trail takes off to the right. It heads north along a fence line, surrounded by a surrealistic plantscape of cactuses and ito plants. The route crosses a fenced gate, trending westwards again, and then heads in the general direction of the highest peak in the Tres Hermanas. After another gate is crossed a right fork followed by a left fork (or possibly the reverse) heads into a canyon flanking the most prominent peak. A short climb into the shallow canyon leads to another left fork that climbs the summit in one short swell foop (or fell swoop). From this last fork you can see another less traveled trail that climbs a summit to the south at about the same altitude, and also a prominent trail that climbs a shoulder of the highest peak to the north. The route on the north side ends at the saddle, even though that is not apparent from this vantage point. The short stretch to the summit followed here is quite rocky and necessitates some walking.

From West. (described downwards). There hardly seems to be a descent at all from these low rocky outcrops back down to the dessert. The route enters an arroyo for only a short time and then crosses a plethora of other tracks. The general idea is to head north and down the alluvial fan, which necessitates a number of right and left turns at forks. Best just to budget a little extra time. The route exits onto a county road through a fenced gate, where there is also a fenced parking lot of sorts. From here one can go back to the Columbus-Demming road or head west direction Tres Hermanas Grade road, where a stationary unmanned blimp is waiting to photograph illegal aliens, coming across from Mexico. The blimp also makes a good orientation point, and also sometimes misidentifies mountain bikers as illegal aliens ( for example me ), since illegal aliens are a lot more common than cyclists in this general area. When riding alone this has the advantage of a possible rescue by border patrol in case of emergency.




A loop ride with a few extra out and backs was as follows: Columbus > Manning Canyon summit(u) > around the north side Tres Hermanas mtns to NM11  > back to Columbus. The mileage and time includes around 5 extra miles of checking possible routes on the west side of the summit and about 10 miles of unrelated mileage trying to find a bikable route around the south side of the Florida Mountains: 50 miles with 1500ft of climbing in 4:5 hours, measured with a VDO MC1.0 cycle computer.

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