Los Alamos County Highpoint Trip Report

on Caballo Mountain

Date: November 26, 2005
Author: Dave Covill

I met Gerry and Jennifer Roach, who were visiting his sister in Santa Fe, and we hiked Caballo Mountain. Previous reports are fine but do not mention the situation with the forest fires of 2002. The weather was cold and windy and we were glad we had not saved the much higher and more exposed Santa Fe Baldy for that day. This hike is long -- at least 6 and maybe 7 miles one-way -- and is largely level the first 4 miles, then dives down almost a thousand feet into a Canyon, then climbs out about 1,900 feet to Caballo Mountain. There is a good trail most of the way, with minor route finding the last 1/2 mile up the Caballo southwest ridge. Near the flat summit, the trail veers off to the south, and you enter the woods and thrash about a bit. Soon the county line is located, denoted by National Forest markers on the Los Alamos County side (the south side). Deep in the woods, you will stumble across a downed barb wire fence, along the county line. Follow it to a non-descript cairn by a tree trunk, at the cohp. A 1/4 mile walk northwest and up maybe 20 feet leads to the Caballo Mountain HP, where Jennifer left a register. I tried to convince her to leave it at the vastly more important cohp and not the mountain HP but she would not listen.

As you leave the trailhead, there is some evidence of the burn right there but you quickly discover that you are skirting just west of it the first two miles and then no longer see any evidence of it at all. This is good, as the woods are lovely and must be really nice in full aspen glow in September. The drive in is through large burn areas and the burn must have been very intense, as there is little standing in some spots. Jennifer ran a 30 mile race around there last year and actually ran west up the canyon we descended, from down in Los Alamos, then turned south and ran along the level ground of our trail, until she was back to the pipeline road, then she turned back east there and ran down the road. Not for this hiker.

Took us about 8.5 hours total I think. It took at least 45 minutes to locate both HPs and have lunch on top. We just made it out before dark, with minor snowfall ever since the summit. The big storm came in that night, glad to be out of there. Not a speck of snow on the little ski area prior to Saturday. Hardly any problems at all with any downed timber on the route, either due to fire or wind; counted perhaps 4 occasions where we stepped over or around by a few feet, that's it.