McKinley County High Point Trip Report

Cerros de Alejandro (9,166 ft)

Date: September 29, 2002
Authors: Adam Helman and Edward Earl

As with Mt Taylor of Cibola County, the jumping-off point for the McKinley cohp is the town of Grants along I-40 some 70 road miles west of Albuquerque. They are ideally combined into a single day - as we did.

From I-40 take the exit, just west of Grants, that leads to NM route 605 and San Mateo which is northeast of Grants. After driving north on NM-605 for some 22 or 23 miles past I-40, at a point where NM-605 bends to the left, is a sign saying "San Mateo" indicating a right turnoff onto a gravel road. Do not take this turnoff but stay on the main highway (north) for another 0.5 mile, until you come to a fork with a sign indicating a left turn to the coal mine and another sign saying that it is 1 mile to FR456. Take the left branch here.

After 1.6 additional miles (i.e. beyond the 0.5 mile just traversed), you come to another fork. The left branch is again indicated by a sign to the coal mine, whereas the right branch is gravel and is FR456. Take the right branch, reset the odometer, and then follow Scott Surgent's report with correct mileages.

Adam decided to defy a string of boulders that blocked the dirt road leading southeast towards Cerros de Alejandro, and as located just 100 or 200 yards from the junction at mile 13.0 in Scott Surgent's report. In so doing we drove further, along increasingly rough road, to within one-half mile of the northern base of Cerros de Alejandro.

We walked cross-country, then uphill, and, when nearly at the summit, encountered a fresh fence, quite taught, that was obviously recently placed.

The summit views were beautiful. A few volcanic plugs, lower than ourselves, were spotted to the north. Had they been higher than us, claiming McKinley County might involve a class 5 ascent!

After a successful summit bid we returned to Adam's new green Tacoma within 50 minutes or an hour of having left it. We proceeded to Mt Taylor of Cibola County via a backcountry route that obviated returning to I-40.