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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Whitewater Baldy, NM

no permit
101 4 1
Guide 4 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southwest
5 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,132 feet
Elevation Gain 1,763 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.82
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
24  2015-05-20 Grimey
15  2011-05-10 PrestonSands
26  2008-06-27 PrestonSands
36  2007-07-13 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Co-Author Chapman
co-author avatarGuides 2
Routes 0
Photos 50
Trips 14 map (82 Miles)
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Twin Oaks, MO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:02am - 6:13pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
peak bagger's paradise
by PrestonSands & Chapman

Likely In-Season!
Whitewater Baldy, at 10,895 feet, is the highest point in New Mexico's vast Gila Wilderness area. Several trails converge near the peak; this hike follows the Crest Trail #182 through lush alpine forest to reach the highpoint of the majestic Mogollon Mountains. This area is prone to violent thunderstorms, so start early during monsoon season. Forget about hiking it in the winter, as the road to the trailhead is closed due to heavy snow.

The hike begins at the Sandy Point Trailhead along New Mexico highway 159 (Bursum Road). A sign for the Crest Trail #182 is on the south side of the parking area. The trail heads south and immediately begins a steady climb through cool, dense forest, where mature stands of quaking aspen and moss encrusted engelmann spruce choke out the sunlight along the trail.

The Crest Trail reaches a saddle at about 1.8 miles, where it enters the Gila Wilderness. A side trail to the left at about 1.9 miles leads to Bead Spring, which may have water (check with the Glenwood Ranger District). The elevation gain eases now, as the Crest Trail continues south into the Wilderness along the east slope of Willow Mountain. Views are limited, due to the dense tree cover.

By the four mile point, the trail is well into the 10,000 foot country, and travels along the crest of a broad ridge. Occasional openings in the forest allow for incredible views to the west down Whitewater Canyon.

After reaching a high point at 10,510 feet, the Crest Trail makes a short drop down to Hummingbird Saddle at 10,400 feet, where it meets the Whitewater Trail #207. At Hummingbird Saddle the forest opens up to reveal a small idyllic meadow that is perfect for camping. Water should be available at Hummingbird Spring, which is about 0.25 miles down the Whitewater Trail to the west. Again, check with the forest service for current water availability.

Leaving the Crest Trail behind, the hike to the peak now heads due south from Hummingbird Saddle up Whitewater Baldy's north ridge. A faint, unsigned use trail marked by occasional cairns leads the way. After a short, steep climb, the use trail arrives in the cool, thin air of Whitewater Baldy's flat, forested summit. A giant rock cairn and a summit register mark the top of the peak. Head a short distance south from the summit to the south edge of the mountain. Here, the trees and mountaintop suddenly give way to fantastic views from Whitewater's bald spot. All points south and west are visible here.

Return the way you came, unless you are interested in a longer return hike. There are plenty of options for a long loop hike in this incredible wilderness area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-01-21 PrestonSands & Chapman
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    Wilderness Map
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Whitewater Baldy
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I had wanted to make one last trip over to the Gila Wilderness before moving, so, with an unexpected day off, I made a run for Whitewater Baldy. Arriving at Sandy Point, I hit the trail and moved quickly. The mountains had shielded me from the wind until I reached the ridgeline 3 miles in, so I put on warmer clothes and headed into the 40+ mph wind. With temps in the 40's, it was chilly. I made Hummingbird Saddle, where I stopped to see our campsites from previous years, before heading up to the summit. The views from the summit were impressive as always, with the added benefit on this trip of not having to worry about thunderstorms. I shot video, photos, and left a new summit register, before heading down. Back at the saddle, I made a quick side trip to Hummingbird Spring. The flow was pretty weak, maybe 1 quart every 2-3 minutes. I moved at a nice leisurely pace on the way back, enjoying the spruce-fir country, big trees and forest scent. I reached my truck at 6:15 pm, then made the drive back down to Mogollon, enjoying the sights. Once in Glenwood, I was disapointed to discover the Blue Front Cafe closed for the day. A burger had sounded really good. It would be a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner instead. :? Had a great night time drive back to Safford, listening to my favorite music, and reliving past memories of this wonderful area. It was a perfect day. :)

My really long video of the hike: ... gV6xnH3bc4
Whitewater Baldy
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John, Jason, Gary and I left my house in Safford on Friday AM, and headed for New Mexico. This was going to be Jason and Gary's first trip to the Gila Wilderness. We ate lunch in Glenwood, then it was off to Sandy Point Trailhead. Skies darkened as soon as we hit the Crest Trail, and it rained a little.

A couple of miles in, we came across a piece of twisted metal along the trail. Looking up slope, I noticed what appeared to be a plane wreck. "I don't remember that on our last trip", I thought. We dropped our packs, and explored the wreckage for awhile, looking for clues. A freshly cut path to the wreck let us know someone had been here before. A newspaper gave us a date of November 2007 or later.

With our packs on again, we continued through the spruce jungle, and arrived at Hummingbird Saddle late in the afternoon. We set up camp in the trees above the saddle, roamed around a bit, and got to know our neighbors: a family of well traveled backpackers from the Netherlands, and an adventurous principal from Seattle. John and I watered up at Hummingbird Spring, then returned to camp at sunset. While we cooked dinner, John, who was experiencing an altitude sickness headache at our 10,400 foot campsite, went to bed. The rest of us soon followed, as the cool air and brisk evening breeze overwhelmed us desert dwellers.

The next morning, a fully recovered John joined us in the meadow at Hummingbird Saddle for relaxation and a partaking of our collective reading material. Afterwards it was off to the summit of Whitewater Baldy for neverending views of the incredible Gila Wilderness. Gary went in search of a cell phone signal, while we watched clouds build over the Mogollons. Upon returning to camp, we were treated to a mother turkey and her two chicks. At some point, John decided on Mountain House Turkey Tetrazini for dinner.

Later that afternoon, Jason and I hiked aways down the Whitewater Trail #207 to see what it had to offer. A bit more primitive, and absolutely beautiful, as was expected.

Late afternoon brought the realization that I had lost my trekking poles at some point during the day, and off I went, retracing my steps. I ended up having to reclaim them from another party, who had thought that they had made a lucky find.

Dinner that night was followed by a wide assortment of beverages, stargazing, and one of Jason's hilarious improvised "stories".

Sunday morning was our return hike. The guys thought I was joking when I asked them to leave me there. I wouldn't mind that at all. At least not until winter...

Back at the trailhead, we cleaned up, then it was off to Glenwood again for "real food" at Blue Front Cafe. I was dropped off in Safford, and the rest of the guys headed back to the Valley.

It was a great trip, and a much needed break from the stress of civilized life for me.
Whitewater Baldy
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Chapman and Javan drove out from Phoenix and picked me up in Safford, then we headed east. We arrived at the turnoff for NM 159 with a nasty thunderstorm rolling over the Mogollons. We covered our packs with a tarp, jumped in the truck when a lightning bolt cracked a quarter of a mile away, and drove into the mountains. Rain poured down as we drove through the semi-ghost town of Mogollon and continued into the higher country. The storm had moved on as we arrived at the Sandy Point Trailhead, so we ventured out into the wild country. The mountains were just soaked with rain, and large quantities of hail covered the trail in many places. I was awestruck by the beauty of this place.

The weather held until the last half mile before Hummingbird Saddle. The rain came, and the trail turned to soup. The rain stopped when we arrived at soggy Hummingbird Saddle, about an hour before dark, so we set up camp in the trees near the meadow. Remembering Bear Grylls' teachings, I broke some semi-dry branches off of a dead spruce tree to use as kindling. Success! Warm fire for a cold, wet night.

The next day we awoke to sunshine and pleasant temps. We made an early start for the summit, and got to the top after a short hike. We hung out on the summit for quite a while, reading log entries, enjoying the view, and watching thunderstorms gather strength. I noticed GPSJoe and SUN_HIKER had been on the summit a month before us :)

We headed back to camp early in the afternoon, had lunch, then went to Hummingbird Spring for water. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, taking photos, and watching thunderstorms dump all around, but, surprisingly, not on us. I amused myself by carving a spoon from an aspen log to join my Salome driftwood spoon.

After dinner that evening we hung out in the meadow at dusk and watched an especially nasty storm close in on us from the north. A deafening crack of thunder from a couple of hundred yards away sent us into our tents. What followed was one of the most violent thunderstorms I've ever witnessed. Extremely close lightning and heavy rain attacked Hummingbird Saddle for a good two hours. Quite a show! Eventually the storm moved on, but we all elected to go to bed for an early start the next morning.

The morning of day three was time to leave this beautiful place. We made good time hiking out, just missing another downpour from a late morning thunderstorm. Got back to the trailhead, put on clean dry shoes :) , and headed out of the Mogollon Mountains. We stopped for lunch at the Blue Front Restaurant in Glenwood (good food!), then headed back home.

This joins my top 10 list of most favorite backpacking trips!

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Silver City, NM, head north on US highway 180 for approximately 66 miles to the turnoff for New Mexico highway 159 (about 4 miles north of Glenwood, NM). Turn right (east) on NM highway 159 (Bursum Road), and follow it for approximately 20 miles to the Sandy Point Trailhead parking area on the left. There is a sign for Trail #182 on the south side of the highway.

For water conditions and other information contact the Glenwood, NM ranger district at (505) 539-2481.
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