Cedar Mountain is located 32 miles southwest of Deming, near the eastern end of New Mexico’s Boot Heel. Its summit elevation of 6,215 feet makes it the high point of the Cedar Mountain Range, but more importantly, its prominence of 1,705 feet earns it the 65th spot on the list of New Mexico’s 100 Most Prominent Peaks.
As one would expect, the views from the summit make it well worth the effort. Speaking of effort, this is a very easy summit to attain, which is not what I thought it would be. The summit affords magnificent 360-degree views of surrounding mountain ranges rising out of the vast terrain of the Chihuahuan Desert. From the summit, the wide-open and desolate landscape below can be awe-inspiring.
The summit features a bench mark and a reference mark. The bench mark is set in a rock in the center of a rock ring cairn while the reference mark is about 15 feet west of the cairn. The summit register, consisting of three small pieces of paper vice the normal notepad, was enclosed in a small jar buried securely under some rocks on the west side of the cairn. Finding it was no easy task, which might explain the shortage of entries in the register. Placed on the summit in February 2000, I was the fifth person to summit Cedar Mountain -- according to the register -- as of February 3, 2008. The last entry before me was from December 26, 2002. I’m sure others have been there in recent years, and perhaps not searching as persistently as I did, left without signing it.
Getting ThereExit Interstate 10 at Gage, New Mexico (about 19 miles west of Deming) and proceed south on County Road C-020 for about 6.2 miles; be careful to slow down for the cattle guard just past the gas station and truck stop on the county road as it acts as an inverse speed bump! C-020 goes from paved to gravel about 4 miles after exiting I-10, just before you pass a pumping station to your left.
Turn right on County Road C-019 (about 2 miles past the pumping station) and proceed southwest for 10.4 miles. At this point (about 0.5 miles past a ranch on the left side of the road), there is an intersection where C-019 veers right. Stay to the left and continue southwest. Between this road and C-019, there are nearly 20 “speed bumps”, all good opportunities to bottom out your vehicle if it’s not high-clearance. From the point you leave C-019, continue southwest and then south for about 2.5 miles.
Veer right and proceed west for 0.9 miles, where the road will end at a windmill and well. This last stretch of road gets pretty rough; high-clearance is a must and 4WD is recommended.
NOTE: Please drive with caution as much of this area is open range.
Route to SummitFrom the end of the 4WD road, proceed southwest and up the north slope of the mountain towards the summit. I came across several faint trails, but they didn’t seem to go where I wanted to go, so I didn’t use them. My route topped out on the crest just west of the summit. For the most part, the dirt and rock slope has surprisingly good footing and the cacti vegetation is sparse.
The first 0.4 miles of the route, which essentially is the approach, has 280 feet of elevation gain. You will then come upon a barbed wire fence. From this point, the remaining 0.5 miles has 845 feet of elevation gain. Again, the footing was very good compared to other peaks I’ve been on.
A high wind advisory was in effect on the day I summited. I estimate sustained winds of 40+ mph with frequent gusts, some exceeding 80 mph. Much of my ascent was spent dealing with in-your-face wind that made it difficult to breathe at times. Once I reached the crest, with the wind at my side, I worked my way east to the summit with my cheeks literally flapping in the wind. At 5’8” and 200 lbs., I felt like the wind was having its way with me.
This route is 0.9 miles one way with 1,125 feet of elevation gain.