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Mogollon Baldy Crest Trail, NM

no permit
31 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southwest
4 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 28 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,150 feet
Elevation Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 13 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 35.5
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
21  2016-08-12 FJRpilot
10  2009-11-10 BrettVet
Author BrettVet
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 40
Photos 335
Trips 48 map ( 525 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:03am - 6:12pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Culture Nearby
Backpack to Heaven
by BrettVet

Likely In-Season!
The Mogollon Crest Trail is a perfect trail for the beginner backpacker. I have taken a Boy Scout Troop on it several times. I would like to personally apologize to the romantic couple camping at Hummingbird Saddle when our boy's descended on the meadow. So much for a romantic get-away. Maybe the experience resulted in some serious birth control. Having children may not look so great when 12 teenage boys keep you awake all night.

The trailhead starts at Sandy Point which is a giant gravel parking area with a bathroom and NO WATER. The trailhead is at 8700 feet which takes a lot of the climbing out of the trail. The first 5 miles of the trail is a slow constant elevation rise though dense old growth forest on the north side of the ridgeline and ends at Hummingbird Saddle which has several good campsites and a spring about a quarter mile down Whitewater Creek Trail (207) . The spring isn't a gusher but allows canteen pumping and has been consistently running the times I have been there. About 3 miles from the trailhead there is a recent plane crash site about 20 feet off the trail. We had a great discussion of what we would do if we found a duffle bag with a million dollars in it.

The trail from hummingbird saddle takes off the northeast corner of the meadow and wraps around Whitewater baldy peak and crosses the ridge to center baldy. Iron creek trail heads off to the north and the Holt-Apache trail goes south about 3 miles from the saddle. Here the trail makes an abrupt left turn and heads to the West fork Saddle about 2 miles away. Here the west fork trail drops off to the right and the Crest trail is to the left. Not well marked. The trail begins the long and most significant climb for the next 2 miles going from 9500 ft to almost 11000 ft. You pass two reliable springs in the path and magnificent views off the ridgeline. A fire about 10 years ago allowed growth of a whole hillside of 8-15 foot aspen trees which turn magnificent gold in the fall. Mogollon peak fire lookout is your final destination which is manned or womaned in the summer. Sometimes they are friendly and sometime not. Play it by ear and don't take water from there cistern without asking. It is a valuable resource up there and a hell of a hike to get more. There personal cabin is not for your use unless invited, even though is has a great covered porch. There is no camping here. An alternative is to hike about 1.5 miles further to Snow Park.

We do the 14 mile hike from Hummingbird saddle to the look out and back as a day hike then spend another night at HUMMINGBIRD Saddle and hike out the next day.

The trail has obviously been cleared of down trees recently and is in great shape. Be aware of the weather. We left hummingbird saddle on a crystal clear day and by the afternoon it was pouring. Bummer for the scout that left his tent fly off to air out his sleeping bag. The Gila makes it's own weather.

Bursam road is also closed a lot due to wash outs , snow and is gated in the winter so call ahead to the reserve ranger district before venturing out.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2009-11-10 BrettVet
  • Wilderness Map
    area related
    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 Review
Mogollon Baldy Crest Trail
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
We planned to spend three days to hike out to Mogollon Baldy and back. Day 1 we planned to hike to Hummingbird saddle since we would be arriving at the trailhead late. Day 2 we planned to hike to Mogollon baldy and back to Humming bird saddle. Day 3 we would hike back to the trailhead.

We had heard that the 2012 Whitewater Baldy Complex fire had impacted this trail but we were stunned as to the extent of the destruction to the forest. Starting from Sandy Point, you enter into some old growth that survived the 2012 fire. About 1/4 mile up the trail you hit the first burned area. This lasted for about 1/2 mile where you exit the burn and enter into a beautiful mature Aspen grove. The trail through the grove only lasts another 1/4 mile or so, at which point you are again in the 2012 burn. The remainder of the trail from that point until hummingbird saddle stays continuously in the burn.

It's been 4 years since the fire, the forest still looks like a bomb has gone off. Most of the old Douglas Fir's still stand like skeleton's, rattling in the wind. You can see many that are shattering as they continue to dry out and age is bringing them down. The Crest trail itself, has not been maintained, while it is visible in large part by following downed trees that were obviously cut with saws, the trail is washed out in many places due to erosion from summer monsoon rains. There is a lot of mud on the trail itself and there is a significant amount of small Aspen saplings that are filling in available spaces. We didn't see a lot of pine coming back. Mostly Aspen with a sprinkling of Spruce here and there. In 20 years this trail should be thru a beautiful Aspen forest which should be spectacular in the fall.

Because the forest is so open, the wild flowers were spectacular. I have never seen so many different varieties, so dense. The crest trail has returned to being a wildlife trail and because of the mud we saw significant tracks of Mexican Grey Wolf, Lion, Elk and Deer.

We are Hammock campers and as we got closer and closer to the saddle, we really worried that we would be unable to find some mature trees that had survived to tie our hammocks onto. As we came down into Hummingbird saddle, we noticed a small grove of pine and spruce that had survivedthe fire and were able to make a relatively comfortable camp to spend the night. We were able to find Hummingbird spring but the Whitewater trail (207) was so over grown that it almost doesn't exist anymore. The spring was flowing and we were able to replenish our hiking needs as well as our cooking needs for the evening. That night we slept in a forest that was almost deathly quiet. Hardly any sounds until a thunderstorm blew in and the winds started pushing dead trees over. It was definitely distracting worrying about having a tree or dead branches come down on your camp (or while you were hiking.)

The morning of day 2, we decided to cut this trip short. As we hiked down into the saddle, we could see that we would again be hiking into a forest that had been severely impacted by the 2012 fire and we were concerned about falling trees and finding suitable trees to hang from. My limited experience with Forrest fires taught me that rarely does a fire consume an entire forest. Usually there are stands of trees that survive, little islands of life that continue to echo the forest that used o exist. The Whitewater Baldy fire (with the exception of a few trees on Hummingbird saddle) looks like it has destroyed a significant part of the forest that once existed on these mountains. It will be years before a forest of any kind will grace these slopes again. We will probably never see a mature Fir forest again.

To many to identify... But the wild raspberry's were delicious.

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.
page created by BrettVet on Nov 10 2009 8:16 pm
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