Manzano Peak is the highest point in the Manzano Mountains. These mountains are essentially a southern extension of the Sandia Mountains further north, but are much less well-known. However, Manzano Peak is a prominent mountain that can be seen for miles around. When Spanish explorers first visited this area in the 1700's, they noticed apple trees growing at the eastern edge of the mountains. Since the word "manzano" is spanish for apple, the mountains became known as the Manzano Mountains. The northern part of the range is closed to the public because the land belongs to either the Isleta Pueblo or Kirtland AFB. Only the southern section is open for recreation, which is located within the Cibola National Forest. Manzano Peak itself is located in the Manzano Mountain Wilderness Area. The new field of Prominence has made Manzano Peak a more important mountain. With a prominence of 3,238', it's big enough to make an appearance on the New Mexico Prominence Map.
From the town of Manzano on NM 55, drive about two miles south on NM 131, then turn right on County Road B 062. After about half a mile, you will enter the Cibola National Forest, and the road turns into Forest Road 253. Drive west about two miles, then turn left on the main road, which is now called Forest Road 422. Drive about four miles south until you reach the Kayser Trail No. 80 sign. Park up the trail just off the main road.
Contact the Cibola National Forest, Mountainair Ranger District, at 505-847-2982 for the latest information.
Forest Service Map: Cibola National Forest (Mountainair Ranger District Map).
Topo Map: Manzano.
There are several good Forest Service campgrounds in the area. Manzano Mountains State Park is located three miles south of the town of Manzano.
Be advised that FR253 may be closed during winter months. I planned to hike Manzano Feb. 6 2006, but found the road gated off just past Manzano State Park. The signed said it was closed in winter "for resource protection." I don't know if FS422 might be open from Abo Pass to the south, at least far enough to access Pine Shadow Trail. FS 275 from Punta de Agua is another possibility, but again I have no idea how far the closure extends over these roads. I can't find any reference to the subject on the Forest Service website. If you are similarly unlucky, the closest alternative is to take FS 245 out of Manzano and hike Osha Peak instead.