Hart Peak is a 7,975ft peak located on Philmont Scout Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico. Hart Peak is the lowest named summit on Philmont Scout Ranch. Even though it is the lowest, it boast some of the best views to the north. From its summit, you can have great glimpses of Little Costilla, Culebra Peak and East and West Spanish Peaks. Also, Hart Peak is one of the two named peaks located in Philmont's North Country. The other peak is Philmont's highest peak, Baldy Mountain. Hart Peak has the second best views of Baldy Mountain on the ranch and is only second to the view of Baldy from Wilson Mesa. It is a fairly popular peak on the Philmont Scout Ranch mainly because there is a trail that leads up and over its summit.
What is interesting about this peak is that it really isn't a high point. There is a long connecting ridge that runs north to south. Hart Peak is the highest point on the south end of that ridge, however, there is a point about a mile up the ridge that is 80ft higher the Hart Peak. This only gives hart peak around 200ft of prominence but an an isolation of around a mile. Hart Peak isn't on any USGS Quads as a peak. Why Philmont choose to name Hart Peak as a peak and not the actual high point we may never know.
Hiking InfoIf your hiking this peak, you are most likely on a Philmont Trek. Most crews that hike this peak will be going from either the staffed camp Indian Writings to the staffed camp Ponil or vica-versa. With that being said, crews hiking this peak will have their full packs on.
Route Description from Indian Writings to Ponil:
From Indian Writings, Hart Peak lays to the west. From the camp, you will see a big rocky ridge that runs horizontal to the whole canyon. The steepest/hardest part is getting up and over this section. From here till the saddle, you will be hiking in a section of forest that was devastated by the 2002 Ponil Complex Fire. Because of this, there is no shade and virtually no wind, so don't be caught out on this section mid-day. The elevation gain is gradual for awhile as you follow along a small drainage (dry most of the time).
Then, the trail begins to switch back a fair amount until you reach a little saddle. From the saddle, Hart Peak is north (or right if your standing on trail). The last section is a little steep, both nothing to crazy. To get to Ponil, you have to go a little bit below the summit (right around where the last steep section is). The trail traverse below the west face of the summit and then follows the north ridge of Hart Peak. Then, the trail drops down into a large drainage and begins doing wide switchbacks. This area is very well covered (no fire evidence here). This trail drops you out right behind one of the buildings at Ponil. From Ponil, it is about 800 feet of elevation gain in about 3 miles. From Indian Writings, its is about 1000ft of elevation gain over about 4 miles.
CampingCamping at Philmont can only be done in established campgrounds. There are two staffed camps located on either side of the peak. The staffed camp of Ponil is located to the west. Ponil is one of the largest staffed camps at Philmont many due to the fact that it is along HWY 204 and is really close to the Philmont boundary. They offer a variety of activities such as horse ridding and western activities. To the east, Indian Writings is a staffed camp that offers the camper a look at some of the history of the area. You could look at petroglyphs and you could do an archeological dig where on can find arrowheads and Spanish pottery/glass. These are the two closest camps to Hart Peak. Philmont doesn't allow any primitive back-country camping. You must camp in a designated campsite.
You 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
Fax: (575) 376-2602
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.
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, you could take HWY 204 (New Mexico's only non-paved highway) to staffed camp at Ponil. You could park here and then start the hike. Anybody can drive this highway, however, it simply passes through Philmont land so the same hiking restrictions apply.
External LinksPhilmont Scout Ranch
Lots of great information about Philmont
Current Weather Conditions
Current weather conditions for Hart Peak provided by NOAA.