The 6-mile-long Baylor Trail is located in the Organ Mountains just east of the city of Las Cruces in southwestern New Mexico. It carries the distinction of being the only maintained trail that traverses the Organ Range. There are two trailheads, one on the east end at the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area, and the other on the west end just off Baylor Canyon Road.
The east trailhead is at an elevation of 5,540 ft., rising to 6,430 ft. at Baylor Pass, then down to 4,865 ft. at the west trailhead. The pass is approx. 2.5 miles from the east trailhead. Also, there is a great opportunity for a summit bag from Baylor Pass. Just head north from the top of the pass and work your way along the west side of the ridge to reach the summit of Baylor Peak (elev. 7,721'). The views are worth it.
HistoryOn this trail, you will be following along roughly the same path as that of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John Robert Baylor, who, in the summer of 1861 during the American Civil War, led a Texas Mounted Volunteer regiment to victory over a numerically superior Union force outside of Las Cruces. The Union troops, under Major Isaac Lynde, were in retreat, abandoning a seemingly indefensible Fort Filmore because of the imminent threat of a Confederate assault. As the story goes, Union soldiers made a crucial mistake as they were destroying supplies at the fort prior to their retreat. Rather than dumping perfectly good medicinal whiskey, they opted instead to replace the water in their canteens with the whiskey. Later, as they retreated towards the San Augustin Pass, the July sun and whiskey took their toll. Baylor’s mounted Confederate force, outnumbered 500 to 200, moved across the pass that would later bear his name, and intercepted the Union force at San Augustin Spring. Baylor must have been in shock when the Union force, drunk and dehydrated, surrendered without a shot being fired.
Getting ThereEast trailhead: From U.S. Hwy 70, take Aguirre Springs Road south. The intersection is 1.1 miles east of the San Augustin Pass, through which Hwy 70 runs. Stay on this road until you reach the fee area and campgrounds (approx. 6 miles). There is a small parking area available for hikers. Just continue past the self-pay station; the road will curve to the left and the parking area is to the left side of the road. You will see the Pine Tree Trailhead on the right side. To reach the Baylor Pass Trailhead, you will need to walk back down the road past the pay station and the trailhead is located on the left side of the road.
West trailhead: From U.S. Hwy 70, take the Baylor Canyon Road/NASA Road exit and proceed south on Baylor Canyon Road for approx. 2 miles until you see the small trailhead parking lot to the left. Baylor Canyon Road goes from paved to dirt shortly south of the parking area, so if you hit the dirt, you've gone too far. The trailhead is located directly next to the parking area.
CampingDeveloped campsites are available at the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area. However, along Baylor Pass Trail, there are no designated campsites. Primitive camping is permitted along the trail at no fee. There is a primitive campsite complete with a fire ring and a bench under a tree about 3/4 mile west of the pass. This is probably the best area along the trail to set camp.
|Baylor Pass||-||32.38314 N||106.57915 W|
|Baylor Pass Trailhead (East)||-||32.37180 N||106.56163 W|
|Baylor Pass Trailhead (West)||-||32.39122 N||106.61388 W|
|Baylor Peak||7,721'||32.39107 N||106.57674 W|
|Primitive campsite off trail||-||32.38241 N||106.58701 W|
|Pine Tree Trailhead||-||32.37009 N||106.56012 W|
Red TapeBLM rules apply.
East trailhead: Open year-round. 57 family camp sites and 2 group camp sites at the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area: Group sites can be reserved ($25 reservation fee) by calling the BLM Las Cruces District Office at 505-525-4300. $3 per vehicle daily fee and $3 per night fee (if camping in established camp site). The entrance gate to Aguirre Springs is opened 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April to October and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. October to April. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail.
West trailhead: No fees or gates. This trailhead is accessible around-the-clock.