Mount Phillips is a 11,721ft peak located Sangre de Cristo Mountains Northern New Mexico. Mount Phillips is the second highest peak on Philmont Scout Ranch after Baldy Mountain. Formerly called Clear Creek Mountain (and still labeled as such on some maps), it is now named after Waite Phillips who donated what is now Philmont Scout Ranch to the Boy Scouts of America. Although it is the 49th highest mountain in New Mexico, it is the 19th most prominent summit in the state.. The summit lies on the border of the Philmont property and it is frequented by many of the 20,000 scouts that visit Philmont Scout Ranch each year as well as a few off ranch hikers.
Like many peaks in the area Mount Phillips takes the form of a rounded dome, making for a relatively easy climb. There are spectacular views of many of New Mexico's highest peaks, including Wheeler Peak and the Latir group to the west, as well as Tough-Me-Not, Baldy and Little Costilla Peak to the north. From Mount Phillips' eastern side about a quarter mile away from the summit there is a clearing with views to the southeast which are otherwise obscured by the trees at the summit. This spot offers an excellent sunrise view, while the sunset over Wheeler Peak can be seen from the summit.
If your hiking this peak, you are most likely on some sort of trek at Philmont. For many, the itinerary for the trip requires them to camp at either Mount Phillips, Red Hills, Comanche Peak or Thunder Ridge Camps. These are all very close to the summit of Phillips and the crew will usually hike to the summit of Phillips. Some crews have to hike over the actual summit as a part of the itinerary to go or leave the staffed camp at Clear Creek. From the west, the trail starts (or begins) at Clear Creek Camp and goes up the west ridge till it reaches the broad summit. A little bit beyond the summit you find Mount Phillips Camp. Then, you reach Mount Phillip's Saddle along with with Comanche Peak and Comanche Peak Camp. From here, you could either head down to Red Hills Camp or Thunder Ridge (along with the staffed camp at Cyphers Mine). Both are fairly steep trails with the trail to Thunder Ridge being much more traveled. These trails to and from the summit are very will marked and easy to follow. Mount Phillips isn't as steep as many of the peaks on the ranch, however, the elevation along with a full pack is usually what gets most hikers. It is possible to day hike Mount Phillips from various staffed camps such as Cimarroncito(I did it with my crew), however, one needs to get a very early start to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that are very common throughout the ranch in the summer.
For off ranch hikers, there is a use trail that starts somewhere in Tolby Meadows and you can connect that up the part of the Philmont trail (which is off the ranch's boundary) to lead to the summit. As far as I know, you can drive a 4wd road to Tolby Meadow. See the Red Tape section about the closures in that area
For Philmont Trekkers, there are two Trail Camps located really close to the summit. Mount Phillips Camp is practically on the summit to the east while Comanche Peak Camp is less then a mile away between Phillips and Comanche Peak. Red Hills and Thunder Camp are also fairly close to Mount Phillips. With the exception of Red Hills, these are all dry camps, meaning NO WATER. The closest staffed camp is Clear Creek, which lays to the west of Mount Phillips.
The closest established camping is the private campground at Eagle Nest just off of Highway 64 where the Cimarron River meets Eagle Nest Lake. The trail to the summit is just across the highway from here. There are sites very near to the summit that are accessible to anyone. Be sure however, if you are not a part of the Philmont program, not to stay in the sites labeled "Mount Phillips Camp" farther away from the summit as these sites are part of the Philmont Scout Ranch.
Also, the Carson National Forest Surrounds much of the area is that isn't part of Philmont or part of the Wildlife Preserve. For camping information on that HERE.
Technically, you are only allowed to hike this peak if you are on a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, are part of the staff, or approach from the west. The reason being is that the actual summit and the eastern half on the mountain is on Philmont property. However, like Baldy Mountain, you can approach it off of Philmont's property and just go to the summit. The whole western half along with Tolby Peak lay on it the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area. The only hiking restriction in that area is that it is closed May 15th-July 31st due to deer fawning and elk caving. To contact Philmont about this issue, 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 at Philmont. Philmont does offer a winter program called Kanuk, however, the winter activities are most limited to things around Camping Head Quarters and flatter areas (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. Even though this is when most people at Philmont hike it, I think the best time to hike Mt. Phillips is your not a camper is in winter due to the fact that you wouldn't be disturbing anybody on top of the summit.
Now, with all that being said, if you feel that you must hike this peak and your not a camper or staff, just be respectful of those on or around the summit. Philmont has worked hard to make to make the ranch a place where it can instill memories that will last a life time upon those who visit it and for many visitors, Mount Phillips is thee apex of their experience at Philmont. Don't ruin it for them!
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 not a camper, the closest town to Mount Phillips is Eagles Nest. From either Denver or Albuquerque, it is about a four hour drive. Take the I-25 to exit 446 (Taos/Cimarron) and head west on Highway 64 until you reach Eagle Nest.
During the monsoon season (July-August) it will rain nearly every afternoon. So get an early start if your trying to gain this summit. These storms usually clear within an hour or so however, making way for a spectacular evening view and sunset over Wheeler Peak to the west. Temperatures drop considerably at night, so be prepared for the colder weather if you will be staying after sunset.
Above all else, be careful of the weather. Philmont stresses this fact to all of their campers time and time again. Storms roll through the area almost everyday in mid to late summer. If you see clouds approaching, be ready for a fast descent. Don't put your life or others in jeopardy by trying to gain the summit with a storm approaching. Mount Phillips will always be there. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! Now this is a little harder to do while on a trek at Philmont in the summer, but you can still observe the weather. On your summit day, check the weather out for yourself-keep an eye out. Clouds aren't always a bad thing. BUT, if you see rain approaching or hear thunder, that is your signal to head down. Better to be safe then sorry! Most of these storms don't last very long anyways. So you can easily wait out a storm and still make the summit that day.
Before you hike Phillips, you should have adequate knowledge of what to do in a lightning storm. Your ranger will inform you of Philmont's lightning procedure and will have most likely practiced it before hand to. But the basic fact is that in a summer monsoon with lightning, get down below treeline! For more information regarding lightning procedures, visit the Philmont Health and Safety Page.
- Philmont Scout Ranch
The official Philmont website. This page has descriptions of all staffed camps at Philmont along with a list of typical itineraries and links to sites with photos of Philmont.
- Official Philmont Website
Here is the official Philmont website by the BSA
- Weather Conditions
The current weather conditions for Mount Phillips by NOAA
- Colin Neblett State Wildlife Area
Information of the Wildlife Area that lays to on the west slopes of Mount Phillips
- Carson National Forest
Information about the surrounding Forest Service Land.
MiscIf you have any more additional information or photos, please contact me or add them to this page. Thank you!
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