Torrance County High Point Trip Report

Manzano Peak (10,098 ft)

Date: October 20, 2001
Author: Scott Surgent

also Manzano Range West Ridge - the Valencia NM hp (8,960+ ft)

I chose to do both of these highpoints via the Red Canyon Trail, which is north of the Kaiser Mills Trail, the usual access to Manzano Peak. Red Canyon has the advantage of a better road.

Follow Red Canyon Trail up to the Crest Trail (#170). Turn left and shortly come upon the junction with the Salas Trail at almost 10,000 feet. This stretch is almost exactly 3 miles one-way with about 2,000 feet of gain. It's all good trail and there are some small waterfalls in Red Canyon.

The Crest Trail/Salas Trail junction serves as a good reference point for the two highpoints. For Valencia, follow Salas up and over the crest and down the west side about 1.5 miles and 1,100 feet of loss. The Salas gets few visitors and it was hard to follow in places. The rock cairn at/near the Valencia hp is reached on an open bump right next to the trail. The usual suspects had signed in: Andy, Mark Nichols, Scott Holzhauser, Jobe Wymore, and two hunters who probably were surprised to come upon the cairn. I signed in, too. The climb back up to the Crest Trail was grueling. Overall this hike took me under two hours.

Comments: The sign mentions the Salas Trailhead is 7.9 miles from the Crest. The Valencia HP is then about 6.4 miles one way. I have read of vandalism at the Salas Trailhead as it is remote but near enough to Albuquerque to attract some troublemakers. The Salas Trail at the Crest was not obvious - covered completely in leaves.

At the Salas/Crest junction, Manzano Peak is about 3 miles south. It's mostly level but it does have one significant drop of 400 feet (where it meets with Ox Canyon Trail) and another of 300 feet (where it meets with the Kaiser Mills Trail). The mileage on the signs are internally inconsistent but my maps and instincts lead me to think it's about 1.25 miles from Salas Junction to Ox Canypn Junction, another mile to the Kaiser Mills, and another 0.75 mile to Manzano Peak itself. My hike went well. A fighter jet from Kirtland AFB buzzed the range, making one heck of a roar! Cool!

I made Manzano's summit at 12:30, rousting some deer just as I came to the top. The views are magnificent. I rested, signed in, took photos and ate. The hike out from here to my truck took 3 hours.

Overall, the hike took 8 hours, about 15 miles and a gross 3,800 feet of gain (2,000 + 1,100 + 400 + 300) one way.