Hermit Peak is at the extreme southern end of the Rockies in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The peak rises 3700 ft above the town of Las Vegas in northern New Mexico. As you look to the east from the summit you realize you are in the foothills of the Southern Rockies with spectacular views of the New Mexico prairie. Hermit peak is a noteworthy area landmark with an interesting history.
This peak was once called El Cerro del Tecolote, "The Hill Of The Owl" by early Spanish settlers. In the late 1800s; however, the mountain became known as Hermit Peak. Supposedly, an Italian missionary named Juan de Agostini lived in a cave on the summit in the mid 1860s. He established himself as a kind of holy man, trading carvings and trinkets for food. Folks would hike to the top to recieve blessings and healings. In the late 1860s, de Agostini left the mountain and was later killed by Indians. Pilgrimages by religious followers to the cave at the summit continued up until the 1960s. Near the summit, there are still the hermit cave and remnants of religious gatherings. Hikers/climbers are reminded not to disturb these areas or any artifacts.
The movie Red Dawn was filmed in nearby Las Vegas, NM and Hermit Peak can be seen several times in the movie. (Courtesy of skorpeo)
Hermit Peak's summit is a broad, flat area with imposing cliffs on the eastern and southern sides. A long trail hike with a strenuous series of switchbacks up the cliffs is rewarded by great views to the south and east. This is a great hike for people of all ages. For a day hike or overnight trip, Hermit Peak offers a wonderful outdoor experience.
The Sangre de Cristo mountain range is a spectacular collection of peaks which stretches 250 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Salida, Colorado. Please note the left side bar which features all the mountains in the Pecos Wilderness and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Hermit Peak is located in northern New Mexico about 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas (NM). From Interstate 25, exit at Las Vegas, highway 65. From Las Vegas, take New Mexico highway 65 (also Forest Service Road 263) west for about 14 miles, passing the little towns of Gallinas and El Porvenir. At about 14 miles the road forks. Right is Hwy 65 (FR 261), Left is FR 263. Turn right on FR 261at the signed fork and head to El Porvenir Camground. (Do not confuse the town of El Porvenir with El Porvenir Campground) The campground is about 3 miles past the fork. It is a paved road all the way to the parking lot. The trailhead is across the bridge into the campground. The Hermit Peak Trail is #223 and has a large sign at the beginning. Another trail, #219, to El Porvenir Canyon begins nearby. Use trail #223 to Hermit Peak. The trailhead is at 7500 feet.
See the left side-bar or click here for a description of the Hermit Peak Trail
Hermit Peak is located in the Pecos Wilderness of the Sante Fe National Forest. Part of the Pecos Wilderness is in the Carson National Forest, but the camground and the peak are in the Sante Fe. No fees or permits are required to hike/climb. Standard wilderness regulations apply with no motorized vehicles allowed including mountain bikes.
Sante Fe National Forest
Las Vegas Ranger District
1926 7th Street
Las Vegas, NM 87701
When To Climb
Depending on the snowfall and conditions, late May through early November is the best time to climb Hermit Peak. May and June are typically the dry months, and July and August are the monsoon season with daily afternoon thunderstorms. Snow can begin as early as September.
Porvenir Campground is a self-serve/pay area maintained by the Forest Service. There are 19 sites with 13 sites able to accomodate up to a 32 ft RV. Water and pit toilets are at the campground. The campground is usually full on summer weekends.
Camping is allowed within 100 ft of the trail and on summit plateau. Camping is not allowed near Hermit Spring. The summit plateau is a great camping area which unfortunately gets a lot of use. Try to use established camping areas. Water is available near the summit at Hermit Spring. The spring is about 100 yds above the last switchback.
The Hermit Peak Trail is a well maintained and trodden trail. The trail is in the trees most of the hike. The summit is broad, flat, open, and exposed to lightning.
Quads: El Porvenir, New Mexico
Forest Service: Pecos Wilderness; Sante Fe National Forest
Hiking New Mexico (Falcon Guide) by Laurence Parent
New Mexico's Wilderness Areas by Bob Julyan
Guide To The Hiking Areas Of New Mexico by Mike Hill