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Hillsboro Peak
5 Photosets

mini location map2013-05-21
48 by photographer avatarrwstorm
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Hillsboro PeakSouthwest, NM
Southwest, NM
Hiking avatar May 21 2013
Hiking10.00 Miles 1,845 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   6 Hrs   5 Mns   1.64 mph
1,845 ft AEG
Linked none no linked trail guides
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My New Mexico trip started around midday Monday. Left Tucson for the pleasant three hour drive to Silver City, where I enjoyed dinner at the always reliable Jalisco Cafe. Then it was over to find a camp spot near Emory Pass. The drive east from Silver City on NM152 is one of my very favorites in the state. The two best campgrounds are Lower Gallinas and Iron Creek, just west of Emory Pass. There was one person in Lower Gallinas and nobody at Iron Creek, where I ended up staying. Had the place to myself the whole time. A dry weather system was passing through, so I knew that when the wind died down it would be chilly at this elevation (7200 ft). It was, dropping to about 40 near sunrise. The plan was to hike to Hillsboro Peak then drive to Santa Fe, where I had a room reserved at the Silver Saddle for two nights. I have always enjoyed this hike, with its gentle grade through nice forest. Today was no exception with perfect conditions. :D

The trail starts at Emory Pass Vista (8200 ft), where you park, but in the days before the locked gate you could drive up the road to the heliport and park where the fire lookouts do. You follow an old road for a short distance until you reach a spot with an old bathtub on your left. At this point there is a branch in the trail, with the lower one to the left the newer contoured alignment, while the upper one is the shorter steeper way. They reunite again further up. As you get closer to the peak, the trail from Kingston (Ladrone) intersects on the right. A short distance ahead there is another junction, with the trail down to Railroad Canyon descending to the left, while the Hillsboro Peak Trail continues uphill to the right. After this, the gradient increases as the trail makes its final approach to the peak. As you near the top there is an unsigned path that breaks away almost parallel to the left. That is the most direct way to the lookout. If you miss this, you will soon come to a signed trail junction with the Animas Divide Trail and the Holden Prong Saddle Trail that drops you back down to connect with the Black Range Crest Trail. At this point look for a path to the left going uphill. That is the one you want to get to the peak.

I encountered two bears on the hike, one a very large cinnamon just above the Ladrone junction and the other a smaller black one by a meadow just west of the trail not far from the peak. I had stopped to take a picture of Cookes Peak and when I turned to get back on the trail this big old cinnamon bolted across the trail at close range and up the hill! :o Good, keep moving baby!! It happened too fast for me to get a picture, as the camera was off. The black one wasn't nearly as close and it too bounded away. Again, no picture, but I should have had the camera ready on the way back down about an hour later, because I flushed it again in the same spot. Fortunately I didn't see the big cinnamon again, but I was very much on guard as I passed by that spot! :sweat:

Don and Phil (Everly Brothers? :lol: ) were up at the lookout when I arrived. Phil has been at this tower a long time (Alice his dog wasn't there this day), and Don gave me an extended tour that ran a little longer than I wanted, since I still had a long day ahead getting to Santa Fe. I was able to go in the historic cabin this time, which was 8)!

After the visit, I picked up the pace on the way down, getting back to the car at about 4 o'clock (MDT). From there it was the always fun drive down through Kingston and Hillsboro and over to catch I-25 south of Truth or Consequences. Went through Albuquerque after rush hour and arrived in Santa Fe at 9:30, so it worked out perfectly! :)
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