Mosca is the Spanish word for wine in New Mexico and is used as the name for many landmarks in the southwest. In the northern-most portion of the Manzano Mountains, Mosca Peak rises from the surrounding land like a shark’s tooth and shares its throne with its slightly shorter northern twin, Guadalupe Peak. Because it is completely covered with trees and brush except at the summit, Mosca Peak is difficult to climb and to navigate. A stupendous peak with great views and plenty of beauty on its own, Mosca Peak offers one of the best climbs in Central New Mexico.
From Albuquerque, go east on I-40 and take the Tijeras exit. Stay right when the off-ramp splits after a couple hundred feet. Go straight through the light onto Highway 337. Follow this road for about 35 miles until it hits NM-55 at a “T” intersection. Turn right and continue to the town of Tajique. Immediately after the central cluster of buildings a large brown sign points to Fourth of July campground, which is on the way so turn here onto what will become Forest Road 55. The peak can be accessed at the Fourth of July campgrounds or further up FR-55 at the Cerro Blanco Trailhead (No.79) when the road begins to get pretty rough and rocky.
A couple of great maps are the Manzano Mountains Wilderness map and the Cibola National Forest (Mountainair District) map.
No permits or fees are required to hike or park at the trailheads. However, as always, follow the outdoors code of conduct and leave no trace. Mosca Peak is in the Manzano Mountains Wilderness, which forbids use of motor vehicles and bikes on any of the trails.
When To Climb
The peak is climbable at all times during the year but may become very difficult in the winter. The best times are between April and September, which is true for most peaks in New Mexico. Though not as stormy as the Sandia Mountains to the north, afternoon thunderstorms are common on this mountain especially during the spring, summer, and fall. Also, due to the low humidity, altitude, and intense sun that dehydrate the body, it is extremely important to pack plenty of it (a couple of liters/person is good). If you begin early, take a waterproof jacket or poncho because dew tends to accumulate on the brush that crowd the trails.
Camping is allowed on the mountain as long as fires are not made. However, all climbs are done within a day so camping is unnecessary for most people. There are two campgrounds in the area; Fourth of July and Tajique, which are on the way up to the trailhead from the town of Tajique.
The only two websites you need are below with weather, fire danger, forest ranger contact information, and more.
New Mexico Website
National Forest link
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