Sugarloaf Peak is unquestionably the most striking feature of southern New Mexico's Organ Mountains. It rises majestically on the east side of the mountains and cannot be seen from the small New Mexican city of Las Cruces, but from White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) this monolith cannot be missed. It is so strikingly different from the main group of Organ Mountain peaks that it's white tooth-like nature immediately captures the imagination of even the most casual observer. This pristine granite dome is located just east of the main Organ Range and is characterized by very smooth rock with occasional door knob protrusions that proliferate towards the top.
The remote nature of this peak, the impressive length of the routes (some as long as 15 pitches), and the visual significance of Sugarloaf make it a must visit peak. The German scientists relocated to WSMR following WWII also couldn't resist the Sirens of Sugarloaf and they pioneered a number of technical routes on the white giant.
An old photo of Sugarloaf that was originally part of R.L. Ingraham's "Climbing Guide to the Organs"
Routes to the summit often take longer than climbers expect, and it is not uncommon for experienced teams to be stranded high on the slopes as the sun falls below the horizon. Take solace if this happens to you, the views of the Tularosa Valley and the fading light on the main Organ Range make for a spectacular way to end the day. The easiest route on Sugarloaf is very, very conservatively rated medium 4th class, but there are a number of other long slab routes that feature long runouts (50-60') on fairly easy climbing (~5.6).
A view down to WSMR.
The view of the main Organ Range from near the summit of Sugarloaf
The view of the three Rabbit Ears from along the Indian Hollow trail
The approach to Sugarloaf follows the mildly used Indian Hollow trail for a few miles before climbers split off to reach the base of their chosen climb. The Indian Hollow trail is not extremely well marked, but there are occasional cairns along the route and a careful observer should not have too much trouble following the trail. From the parking area you will head uphill to a V-Gate in a fence and after crossing through the fence you'll head down into a small wash. Folks commonly mistake the trail to continue up this first wash, but you will want to cross the streambed and continue up the hill on the other side of the gulley. Just in case you get off track here are a couple of waypoints along the trail:
N 32° 22.120 W 106° 32.993
N 32° 21.140 W 106° 32.913
The second waypoint will take you to a small knoll with a large boulder that offers some outstanding views of the surrounding mountains. After this point the trail starts to become much less obvious.
This is your view of Sugarloaf from the second waypoint listed above
If approaching from Las Cruces get to the well marked intersection of I-25 and highway. Take highway 70 east towards Alamogordo for 14.5 miles. Along the way you'll pass over San Augustin Pass and as you start down the east slope you'll catch your first glimpse of Sugarloaf Peak to the south. At the 14.5 mile mark turn right at the Aguirre Springs Campground sign and head southeast. Follow this road for 5.8 miles to a self-serve fee station and pay the Aguirre Springs day use fee. Continue 0.4 miles further around the one way loop to the parking lot for Group Picnic sites.
The Indian Hollow trailhead is on the south side of this parking lot.
As you start your hike you will be unable to see Sugarloaf because it is obscured by the hill on the right side of this photo
View of Sugarloaf with a dusting of snow from Baylor Canyon Trail
Parking for the Sugarloaf Peak approach is in the Aquirre Springs Recreational Area and there is a day use fee. There are also a couple of other well used hiking trails (Pine Tree Trail and Baylor Pass Trail) that are accessed from the Aguirre Springs Recreational Area.
A couple of wonderful individuals have taken the time to post R.L. Ingraham's guide to Organ Mountain climbing online and it can be found at:
Organ Mountain Climbing Guide