pinos altos, por supuesto
Signal Peak, the second highest in the Pinos Altos Mountains north of Silver City, New Mexico, offers spectacular views of the surrounding area from its forested crown. This relatively easy peak bag is conveniently located for those planning a trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. A hike after monsoon season has begun will likely reward you with a wildflower garden at the summit. Be careful on this isolated peak if lightning is present in the area.
Hike: From the signed trailhead along highway 15, the Signal Peak Trail crosses a grassy cienega along Cherry Creek, then turns southeast to steadily climb a forested slope. The trail is a little indistinct at this point as it travels over exposed bedrock, but soon turns into a definite path.
Above Cherry Creek, the trail enters a side drainage, where it ascends a north facing slope of healthy fir and oak via numerous switchbacks. Arriving atop a ridge, the Signal Peak Trail meets an old road at the one mile point, which it repeatedly crosses while continuing to ascend the crest of the ridge.
At the head of the ridge, the trail bends south to traverse the mountain side, before turning southeast again at 1.4 miles onto a gently sloping bench of open pine forest. The bench soon transitions to mountain slope, and the trail renews its vigorous climb up the west side of Signal Peak. Small breaks among the massive ponderosa pines reveal the rolling green hills and valleys of the Pinos Altos range, now far below.
As the trail nears the summit, switchbacks begin anew, and a short spur trail to a conveniently located ledge provides an ideal lunch spot with an outstanding view. Stunted trees and a gentler slope signal the proximity of the summit.
Emerging from the gambel oaks at mile 2.5, the fire lookout tower comes into view, and the trail comes to an end at the summit of Signal Peak. The best views are from the fire tower, where one can see most of southwestern New Mexico, including the Chihuahuan Desert to the south, and the Gila Wilderness to the north.
From Signal Peak, one can return the way they came, or continue east along Forest Road 154 to other connecting trails.
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.