Black Mountain is a very prominent summit located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico on Philmont Scout Ranch. Black Mountain boasts around 850ft of prominence making it the 3rd most prominent summit on Philmont Scout Ranch, after Baldy Mountain and Mount Phillips. Black Mountain can pretty much be seen from anywhere on Philmont and it dominates the skyline while around Philmont's base-camp or in the nearby town of Cimarron. Black Mountain has two summits- a north and south summit which are .25 miles apart. The north summit is higher and boasts the best views, which are still somewhat shrouded by trees. However, views from the summit and summit ridge have views of almost all of Philmont plus views of much of the higher peaks in New Mexico even with some views out to the Culebra Group in Southern Colorado
Hiking InfoBlack Mountain possesses some of the steepest trails on Philmont Scout Ranch. Because Black Mountain lies entirely on Philmont, the people hiking Black Mountain are either on a Philmont Trek or work as staff. Three trails make their way to Black Mountains Summit. For all of these trail descriptions, you still need to hike to the trails mentioned as they are deep in the backcountry. Average hiking distances very from 3 miles to 7 miles.
Black Mountain Trail: This trail is always a front runner for the steepest trail on Philmont Scout Ranch. Starting at Black Mountain Camp at 9,000ft, this trail climbs 1,800ft in a mile equaling an average grade of 34%! I would like to say this trail levels off, but it doesn't. This trail ascends Black Mountain's west face.
Via Shaefers Pass: This is the most popular way to access Black Mountain. Starting at Shaefers Pass at 8750ft, the trail undulates as it makes its up Black Mountain's east side. The trail starts out with switchbacks, then increases in grade. You then cross over a small knoll and go down for a little. Right after at the start of this downhill, if you wanted to, you could check out Grizzly Tooth, which lays directly to the south. After the downhill, the uphill begins once more and you will pass around 3-4 false summits. This trail is around 3 miles long and gains around 2100ft of elevation. This is the most popular route to access this peak for those coming from Philmont's basecamp.
Via Comanche Pass: This route is deep in Philmont's backcountry. Usually if people hike this trail, they are late in their trek or are staff that are already way out in the backcountry. Comanche Pass lays around 10,000ft and climbs over 800ft in 2.4 miles to Black Mountain's summit. This is the easiest trail to access Black Mountain due to this fact, but is underused due to the fact that it is so far away from roads. At around 10,180 on this trail, there is a saddle between Bear Mountain and Black Mountain. This is a good place to go up and tag Bear Mountain.
As said before, the south summit of Black Mountain is the higher of the two. The Black Mountain trail goes right to the true summit, while the other two intersect at the saddle between the two summits. From the saddle, just head south about 200-300 yards to find the true summit.
Snow can be found on the summit till early July. Another interesting this is the fact that there are a few bristle-cone pines on Black Mountain' Summit
Red TapeYou are only allowed to hike this peak if you are on a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, are part of the staff, or have special permission from Philmont to do so. To contact Philmont, you can reach them at:
Address: Philmont Scout Ranch
17 Deer Run Road
Cimarron, NM 87714
Phone: (575) 376-2281
Winter hiking is a no go. Philmont does offer a winter program called Kanuk, however, the winter activities are most limited to things around Camping Head Quarters (unless your staff or have special permission). Essentially, this peak can only be hiked during the summer (May- August) when Philmont's summer program is in operation.
Since this peak is on Philmont Scout Ranch, you have to camp at designated campsites. At Philmont, a staffed camp offers program (mostly western activities such as shooting, logging, homesteading, etc...) and has water. Trail camps are your basic back-country camp with a Philmont twist to it. The closest staffed camp is Black Mountain Camp (at the base of Black Mountain Trail). Shaefers Pass and Lamberts Mine are the closest trail camps.
Getting TherePhilmont is around a 4-5 hour drive from Denver or Albuquerque. It is located just a few miles south of Cimarron, New Mexico.
From Cimarron- Take Hwy 21 south for about five miles. Philmont Camping Head Quarters (CHQ) will be on the right side. This is where you will go if your a camper at Philmont. If your staff or if you have permission to hike Trail Peak, you can drive just a little past CHQ and take a right onto Lovers Leap Road. You can then park at Lover's Leap Turn around.
External LinksPhilmont Scout Ranch
Lots of great information about Philmont.
Current Weather for Black Mountain provided by NOAA