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Organ Needle 9012, NM

241 18 2
Guide 18 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southwest
4.7 of 5 by 3
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.38 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,344 feet
Elevation Gain 3,579 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,335 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7-12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 29.06
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
11  2016-04-24 JuanJaimeiii
11  2016-04-24 fricknaley
9  2016-01-23 JuanJaimeiii
12  2015-11-04 JuanJaimeiii
46  2013-12-08 Jim_H
10  2013-07-04 Jim_H
4  2013-05-19 Jim_H
10  2013-03-24 Jim_H
Page 1,  2
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Nov, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:51am - 6:11pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Inexorably Up!!
by imike

Hardest Day Hike In New Mexico...

That is what many of the local hikers call this "trail" route to the top of the mountain.

If you look at the mileage and elevation gain it appears to come in just slightly worse than Finger Rock Trail over in Tucson. The numbers do not tell an accurate story. The first two miles approaching the mountain are mild, winding up and into the north side of Fillmore Canyon. The easy ends at that point. From Yellow Rocks on up it is a scramble, with very poor footing. At times it climbs at over 2,000' per mile. Normally, the route is overgrown and unclear, often forcing extra efforts through ever steeper scree. It demands some technical moves just below the top; not for everyone.

This is a tough day hike.

I suggest that you should review the available triplogs to get a better idea of what you might be getting into; they tell a more complete story than can be included in this description.

Your day will start well... from the La Cueva Picnic area, follow the trails over to the Fillmore Canyon Trail. Following that official trail, just before you enter the canyon grotto at the old mine site, instead of going into the canyon, move to your left up and around the old mine. The trail should be clear, and will remain clear for the first two miles up to Yellow Rocks. About a mile into the hike you may notice a trail coming in from your left... that is the alternative route over from the old jeep road. (If you want an earlier start to your day than the 8am opening to Dripping Springs, consider hiking in from the jeep route). At Yellow Rocks, the very obvious large fin of yellow rock, the nature of the hike changes.

Looking up towards the towering Needles, you will notice that the strata below is distinctively darker. This Gray Prominence will keep you company for the next section of your hike. You will hike up then adjacent to this darker rock. Ideally, the trail will be cleared out (as it currently is) and you will not have any problems following the best route. It tends to stick close to the right hand side of all that dark rock.

Working your way up, around and through this challenging area (folks tend to fall more here in the loose footing)you will eventually reach Juniper Saddle. For a very brief reprieve you have a flat area, shade and great vistas.

Leaving the saddle, you once again climb ever more steeply, winding your way up and into and through the Dark Canyon area. It is narrow and overgrown. If you are lucky the locals will have recently opened it up.

Finally, you will reach the upper saddle, and have views off and over the east side of the mountain. Effectively, the hard work is done at this point. You will drop over and off the saddle, working your way sharply left. There is a cleared out route dropping steeply down next to the rock face on your right... it drops too far down... do not follow that decline, but stay high and to your left. You will soon encounter a rocky area that is the technical climb part of the route. Scramble up to the obvious lateral crack that will carry you on up and across to the upper part of the mountain. If you can make it past this last obstacle you are effectively on top of Organ Needle Peak.

This highest point in the Organ Mountains is a challenge, but well worth the effort.

Come prepared.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2012-11-01 imike
    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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    this was a hoot :y:

    made the long drive with The Count to check out Organ Needle. Really fun hike with some pretty outstanding scenery and terrain, especially up high. all the way going up all i could think was how bad coming down was going to be. :stretch:

    the ruggedness of the peaks and formations up high is really something to see up close.

    we slipped and slid our way down. i only fell once but managed to impale both hands on rocks. JJ pulled off the most impressive move of fast twitch reflexes i have ever seen in my life at one point. his feet shot out in front of him on a very steep descent...and somehow he managed to shoot his arms out to the sides and grab tree branches on either side to essentially suspend himself horizontally 3-4 inches from the ground. i'd give anything to have recorded that :o

    afterwards we got some surprisingly good food on a whim at Nopolitos. The drive there and back was actually quite pleasant.

    absolutely excellent day, thanks JJ :)

    btw this gps track could serve as the official route, i think, as it starts inside the park at the formal trailhead. the numbers are questionable, as i don't see how you get ever get the same thing twice considering how steep this is, and often hugging huge sheer rock walls, etc
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I was unsure of the forecast in the days leading up to this, but it ended up being an almost perfect cold winter day, except for the wind, which is to be expected at higher elevations. Today had the best long distance visibility of any of my summits thus far, so the wind was mostly for "ambiance". I wore layers, like I used to for my olde thyme winter excursions with snowshoes and crampons, and was glad I did. I was fine, but Yubao was cold for the entire trip.

    This was supposed to be a Meetup hike with 8 people in total, but it ended up being just me and Yubao. That was fine as we kept a decent pace, had fun, and it was a good hike. Probably safer that way, too. Light snow, frozen trail, and gravel ball bearings over frozen soil and rock meant that both of us fell more than once. The sun was warm, and we took long breaks at Juniper Saddle, and on the summit. It was still windy and cold on the summit, but not as bad as in upper Dark Canyon, so we ended up eating lunch at the ledge climb area in the sun. It was much warmer and nicer there.

    This will probably be my last Needle summit for the year. It was my 9th, a respectable number, but Yubao said it was his 24th for the year. He made his goal of summiting the Needle at least once a month in 2013. I made my goal of finally having excellent long distance views up there.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Done with some folks from the Las Cruces group. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have done it. Extremely wet out there, and very green. Quite the opposite from a little over a month ago. So wet, water is everywhere, falling in big falls, flowing down slopes, and coming out of cracks in the rocks up high. The major downside has been the erosion, and there has been a lot of it.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Moist, that is how I would describe today. Heavy rain on the Organs the last 2 evenings have really turned the dust to a nice stable trail. It is much better this way. The air was warm and humid, eastern like, but it meant that you could smell the moisture in the air and scents. Flowing water and small water falls were a nice treat. Everything was still brown, but that will change in the coming weeks as the rains come. Should be like a jungle over there in 3 weeks. Super hazy with no distance views. It was even hard to see Las Cruces as the afternoon wore on.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was advertised on the Las Cruces Meet-up and planned for the 18th. It was hopefully going to be a scramble up the western "retaining wall" route, which is supposed to be class 3. Two cancellations and a high wind forecast for the 18th had me changing the date to the 19th. I had felt ill since Tuesday and wasn't feeling great for this, and the wind was up as well. I thought I had the route description, but I never printed it out and I just brought stuff for the Rabbit Ears climbs. Useless!! Either way, I had a decent recollection of the paragraph which served as the route description in a guide written during the Nixon Administration. Needless to say, our Farm and Corn subsidies are not the only things to have changed in 40 years, and a review of the description a few minutes ago, showed me it would not have been helpful. As it was, it was pretty windy, and I would say very windy at nearly 9,000' yesterday. I do not think either myself or the other hiker would have enjoyed being on an exposed narrow spine in the wind we had up there yesterday, and we scoured the walls of Dark Canyon looking for anything that seemed appropriate as "class 3". Was there any? Certainly not compared to the stuff on South Rabbit Ear. Either way, this was not to be, and we just went up the normal way.

    Things are still dusty and lose on the "trail". You've got to want the Needle Summit to get there. On the plus, we spotted a calm snake, heard some cicadas beginning to call in the lower slopes, and the maples have leaved out up high. The Gambel Oaks aren't there yet, which was surprising. Hiking this glorified scree slope which is often referred to as a, "trail", perhaps to mess with those who find themselves on it(?), I was quickly reminded of why I so very much enjoy the Rabbit Ears Canyon Hike. Solid rock! The Arizona White Oaks have mostly browned and are dormant until the rains come, perhaps in a month, and everything needs rain.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I had planned not to hike this for a while, but needing to pick up some stuff in Las Cruces and also needing to get over 4,000' to round out March and have my first month with an AEG over 30,000' since June of 2011, there were few options. It was also a very nice day, and I was comfortable in shorts and a T-Shirt on top. Hiking this is sort of scary, and once again the trail is loose and sliding. Long dry stretches are not the best time to hike the Needle. Some rather large rocks are sliding as well, and it looks like some steeper sections collapsed since last Sunday. The air was warm, near calm, and dry today. Best summit experience yet, aside from distance views. Sierra Blanca, the Black Range, and the Sacramento were visible but not the Guadalupes. Getting further into Spring and eventually monsoon season, I expect they won't be visible again until next winter.

    Interesting note: the oaks are loosing their leaves with out the new ones coming out. I've read the northern Mexican oaks do this in the dry spring and leave out after rains return. My guess is leaves will be out before rain comes, but it seems odd seeing leaves falling in March.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Another Las Cruces hiking group hike to the Needle. After the cold front I was hoping for clear calm conditions. It was cold and more like January than almost April, and calm, but some dust remained suspended in the atmosphere and distance views were very limited. The Sacramento Mountains were barely visible.

    It was still a pretty good hike in the Organs, but this is a very steep and loose trail. We took a trail from Juniper Saddle to Filmore Canyon, instead of going down one of the steeper sections. It was better that way. Up is hard, down is close to skiing in dirt. I don't expect to not go over to the Organ Mountains, but until rain comes in I will probably not hike this very often.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I don't know how long it took, but I went slow and also parked off Baylor Pass Rd. Probably better to park at the regular Trailhead. It would be nice if for once I would get nice weather as forecast or exists when I can't hike it, as once again clouds rolled in and made a decent but slightly cool and windy day into a cold windy day. Compared to Arizona, this are is bone dry and all the soil is like powdered talc. Guess that is why there is hardly and vegetation over here. Didn't enjoy this as much as last time, but it's better than the A trail over and over again.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I was going back today alone or with people. Met Yubao and headed out of the parking lot at 1011. Even with a 10 minute break at Juniper Saddle I was on the summit in 2 hours 30 minutes. I flew up the hardest part and was running above the last saddle. It felt good. Been a long time since my heart pumped at 160 BPM. Well, since I counted. Yubao got to the top shortly after.

    The summit wasn't cold like last time, but it was windy and the views were reduced by blowing dusty and haze. Oh well. It is a shame the weather we had the last 3 days couldn't have held one more day, but it is only early February. Couldn't see very far at all with the conditions, but it was still a great hike.

    Half an hour on the summit for me, and began to descend at 1:06. While still being careful on the way down, we made excellent time and with a 5 minute break back at Juniper Saddle, we were at the trailhead by 3:19. I think we did rather well, but I think I could have done better in milder, drier, calm sunny weather. We'll see how the weather is for this next time. I want to summit the nearby peak Square top, which has more scrambling.
    Organ Needle 9012
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Started at the pick nick area off Dripping Springs Road at 5400'. I rememeber next to no elevation loss over most of this aside from near the top. I tossed in an extra hundred feet, but 9,000' - 5,400' +100' is 3,700. I can't see how 4,500' is the official AEG. We need another GPS track to get a better idea. I feel confident in my AEG, but would not feel OK posting over 4,000'.

    Anyway, the hardest part about this was paying to park. It's a great hike and a new favorite. I don't know what I liked best, the views, the hike, or the area. It is different from Arizona and way drier, but there are still some trees and oaks. The rock is great. This hike only make me want to do more in the Organ Mountain. I really think the Organs are the best range in southern New Mexico.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    The take off point is the LaCueva Picnic area in the Dripping Springs Natural Area. There is an entry fee required, self serve at the picnic grounds. Register at the trailhead. From Las Cruces, follow Dripping Springs Road east to the gated entry. From hiway 70, take the Baylor Canyon Road exit, and follow the road south, 7 miles across to its connection with Dripping Springs Road... turning left... Dripping Springs Road deadends at the park.
    page created by joebartels on Nov 01 2012 9:17 am
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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