Eddy County High Point Trip Report

The Rim

Date: April 22, 2000
Author: John Mitchler

Set in the spectacular Gaudalupe Mountains, this hill is located at the edge of an escarpment and provides some classic desert mountain hiking with sharp limestone rock, multiple cactus species, and prickly plants of all types. Wear leg protection, whether it be pants or gaiters. From the refinery town of Artesia, NM, we took US285 south to NM137 which goes west and south 36 miles to the hamlet of Queen. Three and half miles west of Queen, take FR540 (Guadalupe Ridge Road) south passing along the very edge of the spectacular Rim. After 11.5 miles, the good gravel road ends at a turnaround. At this point a dirt road extends south, but you better have a high clearance vehicle to negotiate the ruts and rocks placed cleverly in the road. After 1.6 miles of this slow going, the torture really begins. Watch for a small tree-covered pile of brick-size rocks, and veer right on a rocky (!) road, taking it about a mile (downhill) out to the end of the ridge. You can park anywhere off this road and hike to the HP, but a steep escarpment lies immediately to your left (southwest).

There's several routes to get you to the peak. Some folks start their hike farther up the final rocky (!) road and descend the escarpment and take a prominent west-trending nose down to the creek bottom and then ascend a saddle at which point the hike follows the ridge to the HP hill. We, being a different and adventurous sort, drove 0.7 miles of torture to nearly the end of the ridge and parked at about 7,320'. We hiked northwest out to the end of the ridge and descended off the end, past some trivial cliffs and down to the saddle at 6,920'. We then turned south and went up and over the 7,139' hill and followed a poor horse trail up to the summit of the 7,440' hill that is Eddy County's HP. The rocky ridge just below Eddy's summit is best negotiated via the trail just east of the ridge (to the west is a 400' cliff!) and 30' below the ridge crest. You can certainly climb up the spine of this ridge and there's even an exhilarating catwalk near the top.

We chose to return by dropping directly down into the dry creek bed (North McKittrick Canyon) and following it up to the saddle at the end of the 4WD ridge where our vehicle was parked. The creek is an excellent route, with smooth rock, shady trees, and little deadfall. John found an old pocketknife and a full bag of tent poles in the creek bed, so if you know anyone who's missing those items, please inform him. When doing Eddy Co., consider variations of your route. Study the limestone and note the biological evidence of the ancient reef that makes up the Gaudaulpe Mountains. The summit register was signed by county highpointers only.