Do not let the fact that this ride is all doubletrack fool you. This is a robust, sustained climb into the Black Range that tops out at over 9,500 feet. Simply put, it is a grueling grindfest to make the summit. You'll, however, be met with stunning scenery. This is a particularly stunning ride in the fall (mid-October) when peak colors are at their finest. Even though this area was devastated by fires back in 2013, there are still several aspen groves along the higher ridges that glow fiery gold during the fall.
This ride begins right off of Highway 35, a few miles North of Mimbres, New Mexico. Within the first mile of the ride, you'll be met with a river crossing as you traverse the Mimbres River. This will be the only consistent water source you are likely to find along this ride. The water levels vary, but they tend to be higher during late summer when monsoon rains can significantly increase the amount of water that flows through the river.
Following the river crossing at the beginning of the ride, simply continue along McKnight Road for the next 17 miles. The first nine miles of the road are generally in good shape. However, approximately half of the way up, the road will become a bit more narrow and more rocky and technical in spots. While not especially technical, the constant climb and steep grades will make the remainder of this ride an absolute challenge for even the fittest rider.
Eventually, the road will top off along a high ridge line and simply end at a cabin. The cabin is typically open, so feel free to go in and sign the guest log. Take a rest under the trees near the cabin before heading back down, and congratulations on surviving the "toughest climb in Grant County."