San Miguel Mountain, part of Nacimiento Ridge in the Jemez Mountains

Redondo Peak, San Miguel Mountain, Jemez Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico
Redondo Peak (left of center) as seen from the trail to the top of San Miguel Mountain

An uphill but easy hike along a little-used two-track, to the top of a high point along Nacimiento Ridge. Depending on how far you go, the round trip is roughly five to six miles. Once at the top you can see Cabezón, Mount Taylor, and the eastern Colorado Plateau through breaks in the trees. The total elevation gain is about 900 feet. The entire hike is above 8500 feet so a good mid-summer hike (except during thunderstorms) and remote enough that you probably won't encounter anyone during the hike. The parking spot should be reachable by high-clearance vehicles except in winter.

 

A hiking pole is optional. The trash along this route isn't bad, but please bring along a garbage bag and pick up litter on the return trip.

 

Heading north from San Ysidro on NM 4, turn off on NM 485 (which becomes FR 376) and head past the Gilman Tunnels. Close to Porter Landing, at 35 deg. 48.996 min. N, 106 deg. 47.256 min. W, turn left (west) onto FR 534. Turn left again at 35 deg. 49.230 min. N, 106 deg. 47.620 min. W, and once again at 35 deg. 49.401 min. N, 47.243 min. W.

 

At 35 deg. 49.069 min. N, 106 deg. 49.800 min. W (La Cueva Camp), curve right and stay on the main road. Turn right again at 35 deg. 50.674 min. N, 106 deg. 51.332 min. W and continue to 35 deg. 50.941 min. N, 106 deg. 51.304 min. W, where a two-track to the left extends up a side valley. Pull off the main road and park here (elevation 8590 feet).

 

For the actual hike, follow the two-track that extends northwest and up the side valley from your parking spot. The farther you go, the sketchier the track gets for vehicles, but it's an easy and obvious route for hikers. At first you will be hiking through woods and mountain glades, but as you go higher the view will open up. The top of the mountain is at 35 deg. 51.932 min. N, 106 deg. 51.962 min. W (9473 feet). The summit is marked by a small, fallen wood structure and a couple of brass reference markers.

 

Once at the summit you can turn around and return the way you came, or you can go a bit farther along the two-track. At 35 deg. 51.700 min. N, 106 deg. 52.258 min W the two-track splits. The right (north) fork wanders downhill and will eventually take you to the flatlands (it might make a good alernative hike, but I haven't checked it out). Instead, turn right and at some point leave the two-track to check out the ridgeline to your right. Enjoy the views of the southeastern Colorado Plateau through breaks in the trees, and have lunch before retracing your steps. The recommended turnaround point for this hike is 35 deg. 51.538 min. N, 106 deg. 52.423 min. W.

 

San Miguel Mountain, El Cabezon, Mt. Taylor, Nacimiento Ridge, Jemez Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico
A view from San Miguel Mountain. El Cabezon is near the center of the photo. Mt. Taylor is under the clouds to the right.
Northern Checkerspot butterfly, Chamisso Arnica, San Miguel Mountain, Nacimiento Ridge, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
Northern Checkerspot butterflies on Chamisso Arnica blooms