A backpacking trip on the Sierra Vista Trail


During the summer of 2015, Daniella Barraza and Emma Jornlin, two Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns and Becky, a Bureau of Land Management employee, backpacked the Sierra Vista Trail. The groups focus was to map the trail with a GPS to create a more accurate map for users and determine where to focus trail work.

Throughout the next year trail the Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will be performing trail maintenance along the Sierra Vista Trail.

The the Sierra Vista Trail is in Chihuahuan Desert with rugged hills and sandy washes, creosote bushes and towering stool, diamond-back rattlesnakes and black gramma grasses. The trail is home to about 300 species of birds, 60 species of mammals, and 40 species of reptiles. There are also many amazing views of mountain ranges in New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

The Sierra Vista Trail extends 29 miles from Las Cruces, New Mexico to the Franklin Mountain State Park near El Paso, Texas. The multi-use trail was completed in 2010.

Location: Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument between Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX

Length: 29 miles or 46 kilometers. 3-4 days to backpack the whole trail.

Season: Fall to Spring. Summer can be very hot and snakes are more active

Trail Users: mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and trail running

Events: Sierra Vista Trail Runs, March 5, 2016 and

Sugarloaves Trail Race, February 2016

Access Points: Dripping Springs Road, Soledad Canyon Road in Las Cruces, NM; Mesquite and Vado exits off of Interstate 10 and Highway 404 near Anthony, NM.

Notes: Water is very scarce on the trail. Users should plan to carry lots of water or cache water before their trip as was done during this trip. Cell phone coverage is spotty and very few people live near the trail. Notifying others of your trip and/or carrying a location device are good ideas.

Information: For trip planning information and updated conditions and maps contact the BLM – Las Cruces District Office at 575) 525-4300,, Or the Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance at

– by Emma Jornlin

Emma Jornlin is from Seattle, WA. She is an intern with the Student Conservation Association currently stationed in Las Cruces with the Bureau of Land Management. More information about the SCA here:

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