...a Peak for Winter...
When the winter storms settle over the higher elevations here in the Sacramento Mts and a hike not so snow bound is desired, there is the so named Winter Peak... named because it is easily accessed during that period. The peak is one of the higher points along the frontal portion of the range, overlooking Alamogordo and the Tularosa basin. The access is from the backside, and the entire route is up a steep jeep road (still in use!). In addition to the distant vistas of the White Sands National Monument and Sierra Blanca, the hikers are often treated to the steady sound of gunfire from the oft used target shooting site at the trailhead. It can be a bit unnerving to realize the shooters are firing into the embankments directly below the trail. But, if you can ignore that one little distraction, the path does allow for a great bit of exercise away from the wet mush in the higher elevations. The hike starts immediately off of NM Highway 82 just a few miles above Alamogordo. The easy access and all weather roads make this a nice alternative during the messy months. It is not a getaway hike, but the views make up for some of that.
It is possible to hike up to the top of this frontal range ridge and then take off cross country to the next high Peak to the south, Ortega Peak. From there, connections can be made to Dry Canyon trail which would loop you back to your car... or, venture on up into the mountains on a variety of connecting trails. But, for the most part this trail simply allows for fast and dryer access to a nice steep hike when other alternatives are just too messy.
After pulling off of Hiway 82, pull down into the wide areas at the base of the hill and park. The road/trail is the first to your right. It winds around the large open meadow (shooting range) and can clearly be seen heading up and over the hills.
If you get to the trailhead and find you just do not have the energy, and you have 4-wheel drive... you can always simply drive to the top!
Shiny cars do make tempting moving targets... think about that before you head up the hill. - May 01 2009 imike