Cross-O (Crossover) Mountain is situated in the southern Black Range
in southwestern New Mexico. The summit has an elevation of 9,620 feet and a prominence of 480 feet. The mountain sits in both Grant and Sierra Counties, but the summit itself lies in Grant County.
Althouth the terrain is rugged and the mixed-conifer forests dense in this range, the hike to Cross-O Mountain is a very easy trek on a well-maintained trail with a gradual incline. Once you leave the trail to ascend the mountain though, it's a different story (more below in the Route section). Additionally, there are many picturesque vistas along the route to keep things interesting.
Bear, cougar, bobcat, coyote, fox, deer, elk, javelina, ringtail cat, raccoon, wild turkey, Mexican Spotted Owl and Peregrine Falcon all inhabit the area.
Cross-O Mountain's east slope from Trail 79.
View from Cross-O Mountain north slope.
Scenic vista along Trail 79.
Hiking & Camping
The Black Range Crest Trailheads (Trail 79) at Emory Pass (on NM Highway 152) provide the best access for the Black Range. This trail runs the length of the range along the central ridge. There is a large paved cul-de-sac parking area, tables, grill, and a pit toilet at Emory Pass Vista. The vista offers tremendous views to the east of the ghost town of Kingston, Hillsboro, Caballo Lake, and the mountain ranges beyond. Overnight camping is not permitted at the vista. The trailhead for the section of trail that heads north is located near the parking area entrance. The trailhead for the trail running south is on the other side (south side) of NM 152 across from the vista turnoff.
Easterly view from Emory Pass Vista.
There are also many campgrounds, some with hiking trails, along NM 152 as it goes down Iron Canyon on the west side of the range. Because most of the range is almost entirely undeveloped, with the exception of those access points along NM 152, it can be very difficult to traverse this rugged terrain. See the External Links section for detailed resources for hiking and camping in the Gila National Forest. Primitive camping is also permitted along the trails in the range at no fee; no permits required.
The 8,228-foot Emory Pass Vista provides the primary access to the Black Range. All directions below lead to this vista, where the Black Range Crest Trailheads are located.
From the East: From Interstate 25, take exit 63 (Hillsboro exit) and go west on NM Highway 152. After traveling west for 27 miles you will pass through the small town of Hillsboro. 9 miles west of Hillsboro, you will pass through the even smaller town of Kingston. Continue 9 more miles past Kingston until you see the Emory Pass Vista, turn right and proceed about 100 yards until you see the paved parking area.
From the West: From Interstate 10 eastbound, take the Hwy 90 exit at Lordsburg and proceed north to Silver City. From there, take Hwy 180 for about 5 miles, then turn left onto NM Hwy 152 to head in a general easterly direction. At this point, you will be about 36 miles to Emory Pass Vista. Continue east on NM 152 until you see the vista, then turn left to reach the vista parking area.
From the South: From Interstate 10 in Deming, take US Hwy 180 north for about 1.2 miles, then veer right onto NM Hwy 26 and proceed northeast for about 30 miles. Turn left onto NM Hwy 27 at the “town” of Nutt Station, where you will see the “Middle of Nowhere Bar & Café.” After a short distance to the west, NM 27 will curve right and head in a general northerly direction. You will see the ghost town of Lake Valley to your right before finally reaching Hillsboro 18 miles later, where NM 27 ties into NM 152. Turn left at Hillsboro and head west on NM 152, passing through Kingston 9 miles later and reaching Emory Pass Vista 18 miles west of Hillsboro. Turn right at the vista and proceed about 100 yards to reach the parking area.
WARNING: Most of these roads are not well-traveled and there is open rangeland. Drive with caution and be wary of animals in the road.
NM Hwy 152 between Hillsboro and Kingston.
Route to Cross-O Mountain
Black Range Crest Trail (Trail 79)
: Trailhead is at Emory Pass (on NM Highway 152). There are two trailheads at the pass, one on each side of NM 152. For this route, use the trailhead on the north side of NM 152 (same side as the vista). Follow Trail 79 about 2 miles; Cross-O Mountain will be to the left of the trail. You will encounter a rock retaining wall off the trail at the east base of Cross-O; about a quarter mile past this, on the north side of the mountain, is a good place to detour off of Trail 79 and start the ascent up Cross-O. There is no trail to the summit -- bushwhacking roughly 0.3 mile and about 500 vertical feet will be required to reach the summit. Refer to the GPS Coordinates section below for trail and detour position data. This route is about 2.3 miles each way with nearly 1,500 feet elevation gain.
Rock retaining wall on Cross-O's east side.
The following coordinates may be helpful if you use GPS. The elevations below were taken from my GPS altimeter.
| Black Range Crest Trailhead (north section)
|| 32.91218 N
|| 107.76846 W
| Rock retaining wall along Trail 79
|| 32.93306 N
|| 107.77324 W
| Detour from Trail 79 to Cross-O summit
|| 32.93484 N
|| 107.77374 W
USFS regulations apply. Leave No Trace: Wilderness area rules apply. For fees and other regulations, see the Gila National Forest links below. Backcountry hiking and camping do not require any permits. There are no roads in wilderness areas. Mechanized transportation, including mountain bikes, are not permitted. All travel must be by foot or horseback. You will find no logging, resorts nor commercial uses of any kind except for grazing.
Food & Lodging
The historic mining town of Hillsboro is 18 miles east of Emory Pass on NM 152. This 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).
Nine miles west of Hillsboro (and nine miles east of Emory Pass) is the town of Kingston. Nestled in the foothills of the eastern Black Range, Kingston was once the premier metropolis of the New Mexico Territory, boasting a population of 7,000 in 1885. Today, it is a quiet community with about 30 residents. Aside from camping, developed or primitive, the nearest lodging is in Kingston at the Black Range Lodge
bed and breakfast (telephone 505-895-5652). The original construction of the Black Range Lodge dates back to 1884 and each of the seven guest rooms are different and unique – there isn’t a bad room in the house! There are no restaurants, gas stations, or ATMs in Kingston.
Black Range Lodge.
Gila National Forest: 505-388-8201
Gila National Forest - Black Range Ranger District (Truth or Consequences): 505-894-6677
External LinksGila National Forest – Black Range Ranger District
Gila National Forest – Hiking
Gila National Forest - Camping