With one swashbuckling cut, Las Cruces District Manager Bill Childress and National Park Service National Trails Superintendent Aaron Mahr used a Spanish Colonial sword to open BLM's two newest recreation trails on the Jornada del Muerto on Saturday, October 30. The trail-opening ceremony also introduced the new full-color trail brochure and trail guides for the Yost Escarpment and Point of Rocks trails. After the ribbon cutting, about half of the history buffs and trail aficionados on hand for the ceremony got their hiking boots dusty on the new trails.
BLM is working with a broad coalition of partners to develop public access sites along the oldest colonial wagon road in North America, including the National Park Service (co-administrators of the national historic trail), the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association (CARTA), the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Mexico's Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH), and the Spaceport Authority. Speakers at the October 30th event included R. Ben Brown, INAH-Chihuahua, CARTA President Tom Harper, former CARTA President Pat Beckett, NPS Superintendent Aaron Mahr, Las Cruces District Manager Bill Childress, and State Office National Historic Trails Lead, Sarah Schlanger.
The short hiking trails are part of a backcountry "local tour route" that will eventually incorporate equestrian and pedestrian trails at several locations on the Jornada del Muerto. The fabled "Journey of the Dead Man" served as a short cut for travelers making the long trek between El Paso del Norte and the colonial settlements of northern New Mexico. Today, the public can hike on the original road and visit overlooks that describe the history and significance of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. The Yost Escarpment trail is a 1 1/2 mile easy walk up to Yost Escarpment. During the wagon road's heyday, from 1598 through the 1870s, Yost Escarpment was a difficult climb for heavily loaded freight wagons. The Point of Rocks trail is a 1/2 mile loop with views of the historic trail and the railroad that led to the end of the Jornada del Muerto as a wagon route in the late 1800s.