Special Places

Destinations on the Lincoln

Our staff picks for the best places to go on the Lincoln National Forest.

  • Mountain Bike the Cedar Creek Trail System

    mountain biker

    Cedar Creek Trail System is a world-class network of trails open to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and dirt biking. The seven intertwining trails are commonly referred to as the “spaghetti bowl”. The trails start close to Ruidoso allowing for quick access from town. Looking for a short trip? Try Lower Cedar Creek Trail (1.5 miles). Up for a challenge? Try Upper Cedar Creek (Full loop is 4.5 miles). Or mix and match the trails for an even longer experience.

  • Backpack the Rim Trail

    rim trail sign

    Hike history near Cloudcroft, NM! The Rim Trail is the first Forest Service trail in New Mexico designated as a National Recreation Trail. It’s a combination of old Native American paths, railroads, homestead trails and logging routes linked together. The trail is shaded much of the way and is punctuated by spectacular views of the Tularosa Basin below. End-to-end the trail is 31 miles long making it popular with backpackers. However, many people hike portions of the trail as a day hike.

  • Horseback Ride in the White Mountain Wilderness

    mountain stream

    The White Mountain Wilderness near Ruidoso, NM offers the chance to escape city life and be alone in nature. Wilderness areas do not allow any motorized or mechanized equipment, so only horseback riding and hiking is allowed. There are multiple trails traversing the expansive wilderness area. Two of the most popular are Argentina Trail and Bonito Trail, which start at the same trailhead.

  • Camp at Historic Southfork Campground

    south fork campground sign

    Southfork Campground is now reopened after being closed for eight years when it was destroyed in a wildfire. Forest Service staff worked for years rebuilding the historic campground which first opened its gate to the public in the 1960s. Cost to camp here is $10. The campground is open from May to October, weather dependent. Trails leading into White Mountain Wilderness leave directly from the campground.

  • Visit Monjeau Lookout

    monjeau lookout at night

    Built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Monjeau Lookout is one of the most exceptional fire lookouts in the southwest. Its unique rustic style and amazing views makes Monjeau Lookout a wonderful destination on the Lincoln National Forest. The road to Monjeau Lookout is open in the summer months, but you are welcome to hike up to the tower any time of year.

  • Picnic and Hike at the Trestle Depot Recreation Area

    trestle rec area

    Enjoy the day picnicking and hiking just west of Cloudcroft, NM. The Trestle Depot is a historic site where the train from Alamogordo used to drop off passengers in Cloudcroft in the early 1900s. Hike the three different railroad - turned trails, one of which leads out to the fully restored Mexican Canyon Trestle. This site is open during the day only. Sorry, no camping. Picnicking is available in the summer and fall, but is closed during winter. The trails are open year-round.

For even more options visit our recreation page.

Highlighted Areas

Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area

A desert oasis. Sitting Bull Falls is about an hour outside of Carlsbad, NM and it open 7 days a week. Pack a picnic for one of our historic picnic shelters. Then take a dip at the waterfall or hike one of the many trails in the area. Cost is $5 per vehicle. Cash only. Come early and expect a crowd. This place gets busy, especially in the summer! This is a day-use site only. Sorry no camping. Please bring extra drinking water. The best time of year to visit is spring and fall.


Recreation Areas