Nutt Mountain is situated about 3 miles north of Nutt (formerly Nutt Station) and 9 miles southeast of the Lake Valley ghost town in southern New Mexico. Towering above the surrounding northern Chihuahuan Desert landscape, Nutt Mountain looks deceptively larger than it is. Despite its modest elevation of 5,940 feet, its prominence of 1,165 feet coupled with it’s isolation from other peaks bestow it with an unmistakable presence. With the exception of nearby Point 5532 and Point 5283B, there are no other peaks in the immediate vicinity.
NUTT MOUNTAIN FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES
Much of southwestern New Mexico, including this area, is physiographically known as the Mogollon-Datil volcanic field, part of a discontinuous belt of middle Cenozoic volcanism that stretches from the San Juan volcanic field in southwestern Colorado, through the Trans-Pecos volcanic field in west Texas, and southward to the Sierra Madre Oriental in central Mexico.
ON THE SUMMIT
Colonel H. C. Nutt, a late-nineteenth century railroad magnate, is the namesake for the town and the mountain. Nutt Station was founded in 1881 as a depot and water stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad line. The town’s existence was rather obscure. Perhaps the event of most historic significance for Nutt Station is the train robbery carried out by legendary train robber “Black Jack” Ketchum and his gang just outside of town in 1892. A conductor who slipped past the gang during the holdup made his way to town to telegraph for help. A posse from Lake Valley was soon on their way, but “Black Jack” and his gang had already made their getaway by the time the posse arrived. Today, Nutt is home to two people and the Middle of Nowhere Bar & Café.
Lake Valley was the nearest major population center in the area during the days of the Old West. With a population of 4,000 in the 1880s, it was one of the largest towns in the New Mexico Territory. It is a ghost town today, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and is among the best sites in the state. It is well worth a visit and is just a short drive up Highway 27.
From the southeast: From Interstate 25, take NM Hwy 26 approximately 20 miles, proceeding west through the town of Hatch; turn right onto NM Hwy 27 at Nutt Station (do not blink or you will miss your turn!) and proceed north for 0.75 miles, then turn right onto County Road A-028. See Directions below for further info.
From the southwest: From Interstate 10 in Deming, take US Hwy 180 West and proceed north for 1.2 miles; proceed east on NM Hwy 26 for about 28 miles; turn left onto NM Hwy 27 at Nutt Station and proceed north for about 0.75 miles, then turn right onto County Road A-028. See Detailed Directions below for further info.
From the west or north: From NM Hwy 152, turn south onto NM Hwy 27 in Hillsboro; at 0.75 miles north of Nutt (Hwy 27 and Hwy 26 junction), turn left onto County Road A-028. See Detailed Directions below for further info.
Detailed Directions: After making the turn onto County Road A-028, it heads north-northwest, ending at a ranch 1.4 miles later. Do not proceed past the ranch without permission from the property owner as it is private land beyond the gate. Go to the stone ranch house and talk to Mister Charlie, the landowner. I don't have his phone number to post here -- and I'm not sure I'd want my number posted either. But if the fact that he answered his door wearing his drawers is any indication, I don't think he minds folks dropping by. He struck me as the sort of person who has no problem at all giving you access if you have the consideration to ask. From the gate, take the gravel road heading northeast for 1.4 miles, then turn left and proceed northwest for about 0.3 miles. Nutt Mountain will be to your right; park off to the side and start here. 4WD is not required to get to this point, however, high clearance is. There are numerous “speed bumps” on the private gravel road that most vehicles will bottom out on.
Route to summit
The route that I took was on the southwest slope of the mountain. I took a drive around to the mountain’s east side and decided that the SW slope looked the best and easiest. In hindsight, there might’ve been an easier route, but this one sure was a lot of fun. Nutt Mountain was hit with a good dose of cacti and other sharp plants, but in reality it’s not too bad. This route is about 1.3 miles one-way with 1,130 feet elevation gain. There are no trails, so you must route find your way around, over, and through the rocks and desert vegetation to reach the summit. The elevation gain is gradual for the first 0.9 miles of the route. After that, the route gets much steeper and involves some scrambling. Gain the top ridge just east of the summit, then cut left to the summit. There is a benchmark at the base of the cairn. Note the small crater to the west of the cairn. The high point is on the west side of the crater.
Private land access; must have permission from landowner.
Food & Lodging
Hillsboro, a historic mining town about 18 miles north of Lake Valley at the junction of Highways 27 and 152, is the closest place to get food and gas, but don’t wait too long. Everything in the town -- including the gas station -- is closed by 7 pm. The S-Bar-X BBQ, at the gas station, is open from 11 am – 6 pm and has great BBQ brisket sandwiches. The Hillsboro Cafe closes its doors at 7 pm. I recommend you top off the gas tank before arriving in this area as the gas prices in Hillsboro are very high. For lodging in Hillsboro there is the Enchanted Villa Bed and Breakfast (telephone 505-895-5686). The town of Hatch is about 31 miles from Lake Valley (take Hwy 27 south then Hwy 26 east) and has more options for food and lodging than Hillsboro. Fidencio’s Mexican Food (open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week) is a nice place to stop at in Hatch (on the west end of town just off Hwy 26) and has excellent chile relleno burritos.