Carrizo Peak is northeast of the town of Carrizozo, New Mexico and at an elevation ranging between 9606' and 9656', depending on the source. I went with our mapdex and used a summit elevation of 9620'. The mountain appears to be extrusive igneous material, possibly Rhyolite. This mountain is isolated, harder to access for most people, the trail has not seen maintenance for years, and the summit is somewhat lacking due to trees obscuring views. It is worth a hike and summit if you are in the area, or have had your heart set on this peak. If you have excellent winter conditions and snow is present, the Sangre De Cristo Mountains east of Sante Fe, NM, are visible from a spot north of the summit.
Proceed up O-Bar-O Road or Forest Road 441, to the Johnnie Canyon Trailhead, which is marked with a nice obvious sign. This trailhead is the start of a few local trails. My Subaru made the trip easily, with snow, mud and rock on the last mile. My old sedan might have gotten to within a mile of that point. Any major 4x4 will be fine, but you'll need some clearance to get all the way in.
From the parking area, the trail starts up Johnnie Canyon on the west side of FR 441. A small sign marked #74, indicates the location, and from here it is easy to follow. The early part is an actual trail, but soon this joins what appears to be an old jeep road. This continues up canyon, and is always low in the valley. It crosses the drainage a few times, but it never leaves the canyon bottom until you start up to the first grassy saddle, well into the hike. I mention this, because there has been a lot of dead-fall in the past few years. In spots, you have to go off the old trail bed and hike up around. Not too difficult, unless your first time up the trail is after a snow and the trail hasn't been hiked by anything other than a bear (seriously).
About two-thirds of the way up canyon, a seep spring is encountered. This was the only water source I encountered, and it may not be there in dry months. It can be filtered, when present. Beyond the spring, the trail continues until you cross a small grassy meadow and shortly thereafter, a series of switchbacks take you up to the first saddle. This first saddle is where you reach trail # 72, the Carrizo Peak Trail. The trail heads west on the shady north side of a lesser peak, and reaches a second small saddle. Some elevation is lost in this section, but after the saddle you climb steadily up towards the peak via a series of switchbacks that bring you up to the signed summit. There are several rolling summits, with one just north of the oak thicket offering the best views to the north. Return the way you came.
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