The West Lakeshore Trail runs some 11 miles (one way) north south along a portion of the western shore of Elephant Butte Lake.
Because this lake is a huge manmade water reservoir in which the water levels fluctuate significantly throughout the year, the trail doesn't actually run along the water's edge. There are numerous routes which bring one closer to the water either on foot or dirt (unpaved) roads suitable for driving, weather permitting and all.
Any section of the trail is a beautiful wander through the Northern Chihuahuan desert: opuntia cactus and creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) grow in clean, natural rock and pebble sandy surfaces.
In the warm months, if I walk here, I make it at dawn due to heat, but mostly I use this trail in the cooler months, or when I have guests. Dogs are allowed. Leashed and picked up after. Of course.
This is rattlesnake territory. I always wear boots and take a walking stick as my father taught me. I have been told that rattlesnakes never really hibernate here in the desert, but just get a little sluggish when temperatures drop.
On a grey, gloomy, overcast Monday this week, after heavy rain the day before, I thought to walk a little piece of West Lakeshore trail. To get some perspective, see mountain horizons and breathe the desert air.
Creosote bushes, done flowering, were covered in little fuzzy seed balls, as if decorated with little lightbulbs for upcoming Diwali.
The trail is well marked with rock edgings, ADA accessible (for the most) and there are mile markers painted with different images in a style based on local native iconography.
When I discovered mile marker 10 on my Monday walk, I conceived a plan of purposeful walks, this cool season, to find the other mile marker stones .
The trail is in Elephant Butte Lake State Park. Use fees apply with various options available. I purchase an annual day use pass which allows me entry to any NM State Park, and, besides great walking opportunities in beautiful geographies, the yellow pass which hangs on my rear view mirror, is my ticket to year round dawn prayer paddles. I live between two big lakes.
The desert crust is fragile. It is essential that trail users stay on the marked trails to reduce negative impact.