Dripping Springs Natural Area has a number of easy hiking trails, where you can see La Cueva where the hermit lived, walk through the location of an old mining town, and visit an old hotel and sanatorium. It’s located in the Organ Mountains just east of Las Cruces, and I went hiking there at the beginning of September.
From the visitors center, we hiked to La Cueva. The informational placard says that a hermit born to Italian nobility lived here after refusing to make his vows after seminary. He made a fire outside the cave every Friday to let friends in Mesilla know he was alive. When the fire didn’t appear in 1869, they sent a search party and found him face down, stabbed in the back.
From here, we hiked around the backside of a large rock outcropping to reach the Fillmore Trail. This trail passes through an old silver and lead mining town that closed down in 1907. We were fortunate to hike while there was a stream of running water; the trail terminated in a waterfall with nice, cool water we definitely appreciated by this point.
After hanging out at the waterfall for a while, we headed back down the Fillmore Trail to the Crawford Trail, taking it south until it met up with the Dripping Springs Trail. Along it you’ll pass the location of the barn and livery for the Van Patten Camp and old hotel-turned-sanatorium, which are to the left and right – respectively – of the spring and reservoir, which has been filled over time. (Lame.)
All of this took us 3-4 hours at a comfortable pace. Dripping Springs Trail is the most popular trail, which is why we started in the opposite direction and finished there. The park also has a few nice picnic/recreation areas available. It’s always nice, but especially so when the water flows.