North of Silver City, the Black Canyon Trail (#72) is a 13.6 mile horseback riding route with elevations ranging from 6,800 feet to 8,600 in the Gila Wilderness Area. The trail has broad open meadows, cliff formations, and a mix of cottonwood, oak, and conifer offer great scenic beauty and excellent opportunities for photography and wild life viewing. Black Canyon has exceptional wilderness values and wildlife habitat.Trail 72 is a gradual ascent up Black Canyon to Reeds Meadow near the crest of the Black Range where it connects with Continental Divide Trail 74. The trail passes through broad meadows bordered by stately Narrow-leaf Cottonwood, Gamble Oak and Ponderosa Pine. At the upper end these trees transition to mixed conifer and aspen forest. There are many stream crossings. Trails 72, 74, and 75 can be connected to form a loop of about 33 miles which includes Reeds Peak and spectacular views of the Black Range. This scenic loop offers very pleasant hiking but springs on the crest may be unreliable in dry seasons and there is no water along the ridge on Continental Divide Trail 74. To complete this loop adequate water should be carried.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead from Silver City go east on U.S. 180 about 6 miles then turn left on NM 152. Follow NM 152 about 15 miles then turn left on NM 35. Follow NM 35 about 17 miles and turn right on Forest Road 150. Follow FR 150 about 22 miles to Black Canyon Campground. The first 8 miles of FR 150 is a graded, graveled all weather road. Beyond this point the road turns to dirt with many rocky sections. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. In wet conditions four-wheel drive may be required. From Black Canyon Campground go two-tenths of a mile further and turn right at the 72 Trail Head sign. After going through the gate go four-tenths of a mile to the trail head.
Overall, Black Canyon Trail is the 3rd most popular horse trail of all 22 horseback rides in New Mexico.