From the parking spot at 8,063', start walking west up Forest Trail 80, otherwise known as the Kayser Trail. The trail is really just a rough road at this point. About a half mile up the road, you will hit a trail sign
. The Cottonwood Trail No. 73 turns left here. Continue west up the road until it ends a few hundred feet past the trail sign. High clearance vehicles can probably make it to this point. This is the start of the real trail.
Start hiking up the trail through the trees. About a half mile in, you will pass a large sign indicating the Manzano Mountains Wilderness Area. Continue hiking west up the trail. There are virtually no views through the thick forest. At one point, you will cross a rock scree slope along the way, which is about the only view you will have until the summit. About 2.25 miles from the road, you will emerge from the forest and hit the Crest Trail No. 170 at 9,800'. This signed trail junction is in a little grass meadow
. Manzano Peak is one mile to the south. The Crest Trail is faint through the meadow, but a large rock cairn to the left will guide you in the right direction. Turn left on the Crest Trail and head for the cairn
. Once you hit the forest, you will pick up the trail again. Hike south three-quarters of a mile through the forest. You will then hit the signed Manzano Peak Trail junction a quarter mile from the summit. Turn left at the trail junction, and make the final push to the summit
, where you can enjoy the views.
Hiking Distance: About 7.5 miles round trip.
Elevation Gain: About 2,100'.