A Hike Through The Ages

One of the many views we enjoyed today.

04-06-12 – Pony Hill and Fort Cummings

Let me describe how I determined this hike. I asked Bob Pelham for his suggestions, and Bob is the kind of guy you want to ask since his boots have touched more New Mexico rocks than anyone I know. I suggest his hike to a friend who tells another friend where we’re going. The second friend mentions another nearby location ‘you don’t want to miss while you’re in the area’. And that is how a wonderful hiking adventure begins in the southwest part of New Mexico.

We head south towards Deming, New Mexico to find Petroglyphs and Fort Cummings. The day truly feels like a hike through time as we first find Petroglyphs aged 750-1100 years old. We drive up Green Leaf Mine Road off of Highway 26. There is a variety of mining evidence visible along the way. That’s an adventure for another day. We continue on with Helen recalling the verbal directions given to her. As described, we come to a second man-made damn and look for the parking lot, which we find easily. There is a kind gentleman (or should I call him a Petroglyphs Hunter) there who points us in the right direction. We gear up and head out. We soon find a rocky hill and start looking around at the boulders. Helen calls out that she’s found Petroglyphs and what follows is a wild period of pointing out drawings to each other – a mesmerizing hunt which the man we met in the parking lot soon joins. We have found the bulk of the Petroglyphs he has researched and hoped to find and we spend time photographing and talking and just being fascinated.

The footprint on the right is from my walking stick and the one on the right is someone else's footprint!

As I commonly do, at one point, I touch one of the shapes and close my eyes and try to imagine the person who made the drawing and their life. I did it at the Coliseum in Rome, at the Gila Cliff Dwellings, in a Mosque in southern Spain and now here on Pony Hill in New Mexico. I can’t begin to comprehend their difficulties and struggles.

Our new friend, Bill, took us a few hundred yards away and showed us the Petroglyphs he had found earlier. When we got there, we saw two other men who turned out to be the caretaker of the area and his friend. We spoke a few minutes and the caretaker asked if we had seen the macaw. He took us to the area and we saw many more drawings. Eventually, we had to move on since Fort Cummings awaited us. We exchanged email addresses with Bill, promising to share photographs, and ultimately moved on.

Me, Helen and Elsa with the Macaw Petroglyph - awesome!

We have two sets of directions for Fort Cummings, one from a website and one from a map. We head off and after some dirt road driving, come to a sign that says Hyatt Ranch and sure enough, on the map, right near Ft. Cummings, it has the words, Hyatt Ranch. Okay, we’re in the right vicinity. We head off and soon run into who must be Mrs. Hyatt, who we speak to and she gives her permission for us to reach Ft. Cummings through her ranch gate. Off we go, calling “thank you” behind us. The adventure that begins here is of Thelma and Louise legend. Mrs. Hyatt tells us to go through the gate and go two miles and we’ll be at Ft. Cummings. She also tells us that her road is better than the road we missed, so we can come back through this way on our way out. Sounds easy enough? Either Mrs. Hyatt has not been on her roads for a very long time, or we’re the idiots we think we are. We head out and very soon hit a fork. We pick one and soon find another fork, and another. Mrs. Hyatt, you didn’t mention any of this. We see a newer road that was recently cut and speculate that perhaps this is the way. We climb up this road; I get out and move large rocks out of the SUV’s path. We make it to the top and although the views are SPECTACULAR, there is no sign of a fort. We wind back down, risking our very lives several times (okay, perhaps all the chocolate I ate has me exaggerating a bit…..) and decide to go back towards the beginning of our directions and start over. FINALLY, we find the right road and presently Ft. Cummings appears to our left.

Here is a short overview of the history of Fort Cummings:


We enjoy exploring the area and reading the descriptions scattered around the area. It’s fascinating and a walk in history back about 150 years. This area of the country may look desolate but it certainly had a lot of humans living here in the past 1000 years!

Helen and Elsa checking out one of the ruins - Cooke's Peak in the distance.

These adobe walls used to be the provision building.

This is the building where the spring is. This is the whole reason for this fort - water!

There are a variety of building foundations, parts of walls, the very important water building and a cemetery that we investigate. Looking at Fort Cummings photos on the internet, I see that it has deteriorated much in a short time.

Deming may be missing an opportunity to have people see this whole area. I can only imagine what some of the side roads hold. As I put some of photographs on Facebook, I’m already getting feedback on other sites in the area, Frying Pan Canyon being one of them. Now doesn’t that name just scream “Wild, Wild West???”

A hard trek up a mountainside - well worth the effort!

2.49 miles / 7.0 hours

53 down / 47 to go


About Gila Hiker

First I hiked 100 different trails in a year, now I write a monthly article in Desert Exposure about a local hike. Come on out to Silver City..... and bring your hiking gear!

Posted on April 7, 2012, in Butterfield Trail, Challenge, Deming, Fort Cummings, Gila National Forest, Hiking, Indian, Nature, New Mexico, Outdoor Activities, Outdoors, Petroglyphs, Southwest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Damn. You beat me there! Good for you; its sounds like you really hit a vein on this one.

  2. Steve, this is a must see. I can give you directions and save you some wandering time. It’s on the way to Cooke’s Peak trail head.

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