The Sawmill Brook Trail, also known as the Sawmill National Historic Trail, or Sawmill Wagon Road, is located near Fort Bayard, New Mexico, which is six miles east of Silver City. This nature trail is moderately populated, and features hillsides covered in juniper and pine near the Twin Sisters Peak, and inside the lovely Gila National Forest, which is very dog-friendly. Your dog is most welcome to hike alongside you!
This historic trail dates back to the late 1800s, when the Fort Bayard Military Reservation used it to bring down timber from the Pinos Altos Mountain Range for construction and fuel. It follows along the Woodhaul Wagon Road Trail for a short time, and eventually connects to the pupular Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The Sawmill can also be combined with several trails from the Big Tree Trailhead, making for a unique adventure.
To start, the actual Sawmill Trail begins at the corner of Cam Del Cielo and Lincoln Drive in the small town of Fort Bayard. There isn't any parking here, though. You can also catch the trail directly from Highway 180 by taking the Old Golf Course trail which connects to the Sawmill. Either way, you'd start down a dirt road till it turned into a dusty trail, and traveled up to an intersection with the Servis Corral Trail to the west and the Woodhaul Wagon Trail to the north. You would want to head north on the Woodhaul Wagon Trail to stay on the Sawmill Trail. After a time, you will come to a split in the trail, with the Woodhaul continuing to the east, and the Sawmill to the west.
Continuing west, you'll cross the Fenceline Trail that heads south, which is another way you can connect to the Sawmill, as the Fenceline comes off of the Three Sisters Creek Trail, off of Highway 180, just before Fort Bayard and the Old Golf Course trail. Staying on the Sawmill, you will alternate hiking west and north until you hit the Continental Divide. At this point, you can either head down the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail either to the northeast, or head southwest to pass the Three Sisters Peak. Or you can turn around and head back down the Sawmill.
Another access point is at the junction of Forest Roads 536 and 929, where limited parking is located nearby at the Big Tree Trailhead. This would take you along the Big Tree Trail to the Sawmill, after the split from Woodhaul Wagon Trail, and can considerably lessen your hiking day.
No matter which way you go, you'll be rewarded with pawsome sights as you head deeper into the Gila National Forest. Be sure to keep your dog on leash near any populated places, including trailheads, roads, parking areas, campgrounds, and whenever approaching other hikers or horseback riders. Have enough water on hand to share with your pup throughout your journey, and be sure to have enough clean-up bags too!
For a rewarding adventure down a historic trail, be sure to check out the Sawmill Trail inside the pawmazing Gila National forest with your pup!