Thursday, April 21, 2016

Raasch Trail at Hagerman NWR

 By Doug Raasch

Take this trail to explore the area northeast of the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. The old rail bed provides access to excellent birding and wildlife viewing. The hike will be three miles round trip plus some suggestions for side trails. 

Park your car at the gate at the east end of Wildlife Drive, and follow the old rail bed. The trail crosses Myers Branch creek on a sturdy, relatively modern bridge. For the next ¼ mile the trees are often rich with songbirds. As you leave the trees the rail bed/trail bisects a large field. The south side is planted each fall with winter wheat for migratory geese and native wildlife while the north side is a field full of blooming sunflowers during summer months and attractive to deer and turkey. 

Soon after re-entering the trees, a mile into the hike, you will have the opportunity to turn left and follow the fence north, but your time will likely be better spent if you continue straight ahead on the road to Terry Lane. The gate at Terry Lane is the turn-around point for a three-mile walk ending back at where you parked. 

The paved, county road “Terry Lane” runs north and south here, cutting through the eastern side of the Refuge Myers Unit. The section of the Refuge east of Terry Lane is a relatively undisturbed area that, you guessed it, can best be seen from the old rail bed. For an additional 2/3 mile hike, hop the gate and walk through the trees looking for deer. This area* does not see many visitors, so the deer don’t seem to mind hikers gawking at them. The rail bed has several bridges that mark the date of construction as 1926. After about 1/3 mile the trail comes to a fence that marks the turn-around point. Returning to the gate will provide a four-mile hike.

NOTE: Raasch Trail was formerly called Old Trains and Terry Lane.  In October of 2011, the trail was renamed to honor Doug Raasch, and a newly created trail sign was presented to Doug, shown at right, below, and his wife, Sue:

 Doug, who passed away last month, wrote a trail guide series for the Friends of Hagerman newsletter, Featherless Flyer in 2008, with the first installment published in the August, 2008 edition; later the trail guides were published independently to hand out to visitors to Hagerman NWR. They were last updated in November, 2013. We have been publishing one each week in our blog, honoring his memory and love for the Refuge.  Raasch Trail is the last in the series.

*Area is not maintained for public use.

No comments:

Post a Comment