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Signal Peak Trail to Black Peak, NM
mini location map2020-10-18
24 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Signal Peak Trail to Black Peak, NM 
Signal Peak Trail to Black Peak, NM
Hiking avatar Oct 18 2020
Hiking8.60 Miles 3,026 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles   5 Hrs   47 Mns   1.55 mph
3,026 ft AEG      14 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
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2020 New Mexico trip Hike #6 - Signal Peak Trail to Black Peak
(Includes a short out-and-back on the Continental Divide Trail Mile 189.5 to 189.3

Today would be a bit different because we would be hiking with my grand-nephew Evan. He is from California but is a freshman at Southwestern New Mexico University in Silver City. We had last hiked with him when he came for a visit in 2014, when he hoped to encounter a Western Diamondback. No luck on the rattlers but he took solace in Gila Monster and Desert Tortoise encounters instead.
(Long story very short, 4 years ago Evan was bitten by a rattler on the hand, spending two days in the hospital.)

Anyway, after we picked Evan up at SWNMU Centennial Hall it was but a short 15 mile trip up NM 15 to the Signal Peak trailhead, where the temp was still under 60°. Once on the trail we had but a few hundred feet before beginning the steep ascent to Signal Peak. While there were a few spots with switchbacks to make things easier, for the most part it was a steep climb up some 2150' in two miles so we were ready for a break at the summit.

But with 2+ miles yet to hike across the ridge to reach Black Peak we took a few quick photos and continued on. While I had a mapped track across the ridge, it was where the trail was previous to the last fire and by now it was non-existent. So, we simply followed the Forest Road until reaching a nice new trail along the contour, which lead all the way south until intersecting with the Continental Divide Trail. From there we followed the CDT eastward a quarter-mile to what was labeled a "Viewpoint" on Tracey's Guthooks app. With a few trees blocking the view it really wasn't that special, but with a little effort I got a photo across to where we turned around on our CDT/Twin Sisters hike yesterday.

Ok, time to bag Black Peak/Black Benchmark. My track to the summit showed a scramble up the SE slope, which we did, albeit each on our own chosen route, but I was the lucky one, managing to find a game trail all the way up. Another summit with little for scenic views but we checked out the communication site as well as an old shed and a few odds & ends.

We took about 5 minutes for a short lunch break before heading back. Lucky us... we saw a faint trail heading down to the northeast so we hopped on it and soon reconnected with the trail we had come out on. Cool! A much easier and shorter route to the summit... not that we'll ever return.

Almost back to the Signal Peak summit Tracey spotted a few white-tailed deer and we spent another 5 minutes watching and hoping for a good photo op but with only one ear showing in my only photo it was only worthy of deletion.

Now just a short jaunt on the forest road to Signal summit, another 4 minute break and we were heading back down. Near the bottom we missed a turn (ok, so I was leading) and figured it was easier to continue than to return to the trail. Besides, it WAS a game trail we were on, the only problem being it did not lead directly back to the trailhead. But just one small gully to cross and we had but a hundred yards along the road back to the car.

This hike would bring the most AEG of all of the hikes on our trip. Thankfully my hip only let me know I was abusing it a few times and they were of short enough duration neither Tracey nor Evan was the wiser to my discomfort. But again, the elation of hiking with like-minded folk, the scenery, the wildlife and the beautiful weather, it was all worth it.
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