McKinley County High Point Trip Report

Cerros de Alejandro (BM Alejan)

Date: September 2, 2000
Author: Scott Surgent

I used the trip reports supplied by Andy Martin, David Olson and Jobe Wymore and found them very helpful. All three had mentioned the rough road and I had psyched myself into thinking it must be pretty horrendous. It was rough, but not as bad as I'd thought. I did take some notes on the road which may be helpful to future travelers in the area.

Take NM-605 from the west side of Milan (I-40 exit 79, follow the signs). Travel N then NE about 24 miles to the town of San Mateo. My map seems to indicate the town was on the highway. In fact, NM- 605 skirts San Mateo to the north. Stay on NM-605, turn left at a Y-junction to "Lee Ranch Coal Mine", then take a right at another Y-junction about 0.5 miles later. The pavement ends very soon thereafter. The following log begins at the point where the pavement ends. This is FR-456.

mile     feature

0.0     Pavement ends. Road sidehills up the mesa.
2.8     Cross a cattle grate.
4.0     FR-456 ends, turns into FR-239 at a junction. Stay straight.
          A right turn would take you to (near) the Mt Taylor trailhead.
4.2     Colorado Canyon.
4.9     Jct with FR-453 to the La Mosca Peak and towers. La Mosca Peak is about 1 mile
          from Taylor's summit along an easy ridge walk. Stay on 239.
5.2     American Canyon
6.8     Jct with FR-51 "Llanito Frio". Stay left on 239.
7.3     Cross fence line/cattle grate.
7.6     Jct FR-555.
8.15   Gate (should be open), mailbox.

Up to here the road was mostly gravel and in decent shape. There were some areas of washboarding, rocks and dips/ruts but not too bad. After the gate, the road becomes noticeably worse. From here on in it's slow going. 4wd is nice but not necessary. High clearance is suggested. I would hesitate to take a passenger car.

8.20     Cross power lines.
8.50     Cross more power lines.
10.5     Cross fence line/cattle grate.
13.0     Jct with road to Alejandro.

On the day I went this road was closed to vehicles, so I had to park and walk in, meaning an extra mile each way. I also came on day 2 of the elk hunting season, and I met numerous hunters out and about. I was there late enough in the afternoon so as not to affect the prime times (early morning).

The hike up Alejandro is pretty easy and straightforward. I approached it along its prominent NW ridge, which completely avoids any bushwhacking. I had to take care so as not to turn an ankle on the numerous rocks. The summit has a series of cairns and some old wooden planks.

Total time in/out from the interstate - about 4 hours.