Mount Livermore – Summit attempt – Davis Mountain Preserve, Texas

For more information please see my newest report on Mount Livermore

After much anticipation I finally made it out to The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Davis Mountain Preserve (DMP) in an attempt to summit Mount Livermore and Baldy Peak. The davis mountain range is the most extensive and second highest range in Texas. Mount Livermore and Baldy Peak (which sits on top of Livermore) is the tallest mountain in the Davis range at 8378 feet.

 Blue line is the jeep road, Red is the trail we followed until we were forced to turn back by the weather (detail below). Yellow is the remaining path to the summit.

Last Saturday TNC held an open day at the DMP where anyone was invited to hike the property. I called Chris Pipes, director of the DMP, and signed up for the guided hike to the summit of Livermore and Baldy Peak. I found out later the only major difference in the guided and self guided hikes was the starting point. If you come for a self guided hike you must park your vehicle at the cable gate (6320 feet) just past Upper Madera Windmill approximately 4 miles from the summit. On the guided hike you are taken nearly 2 miles further up the mountain by 4×4 to Bridge Gap. From Bridge Gap (7311 feet) you are less than 2 miles from the summit.



The morning we arrived was terribly drizzly. We were concernd the hike would be called off due to the misting rain. I was surprised when Chris told us we would go ahead with the hike unless it really started to poor rain…at which point we would need to abort no matter where we were at.

 Hiking The Limpia Chute Trail
Limpia Chute Trail

Chris had arranged for several 4×4 vehicles to take the 25 people in our group up to bridge gap. My Wife, two daughters, and I were allowed to follow in our jeep in case we needed to leave early with our five month old and to free up more room in the other vehicles.

2wd high clearance trucks can make the drive to the cable gate with little problem. Past the cable gate the drive becomes very steep necessitating 4wd. Once at bridge gap we went through a short orientation with Chris Pipes and then started off on the Limpia Chute Trail.

 Chris Pipes address the group before the hike.

The truly unique feature of Mount Livermore is the broad range of bio-diversity that is supported in its upper elevations. All of the Davis Mountains lie within the Texas Chihuahua Desert. But as you climb above 6,000 feet you slowly leave the desert scrub brush that is typical of the Davis Mountains and enter into lush pine forests. TNC calls this a “sky island” and is the main reason they have chosen to preserve this mountain paradise.

 Pine Forests in the Chihuahua desert.

 Madrone Tree
Lichan

As we slowly climbed the mountain via the Limpia Chute trail we were amazed at how thick the forest was. As you walk through the tall Ponderosa Pine you get this strange sensation that you’re not in Texas anymore. We found that the drizzly fog we were dreading actually turned the hike into a beautiful forest experience and were thankful for the cool weather.

 Limpia Chute Trailhead located at Bridge Gap (7311 feet)
The Fog was actually pleasant and gave the mountain a very majestic feel.

Before long we passed a small grove of Aspen Trees. I am told this is the southernmost living grove of aspen trees in North America. Another reason why TNC protects this beautiful land. After about 0.7 miles the Limpia Chute Trail joins back with the jeep road. The jeep road used to service the radio antennas at Baldy’s summit. One of our guides told us the very steep and dangerous road has not been used in many years as they now choose to service the antennas by chopper. As it stands now no one is allowed to drive past Bridge Gap. You can choose to hike the road all the way to the summit instead of the Limpia Chute Trail. Either way TNC suggests you descend via Limpia Chute because the jeep road is very steep and slippery.

 In the background you can see a small grove of young aspen trees.
Most of the Aspen were young saplings. These two were the largest in the grove.

Just a few hundred yards after joining the jeep road you round the corner and see Baldy Peak for the first time. Baldy peak is the highest protruding rock atop Mount Livermore and was our ultimate destination. We broke above one layer of clouds at 8000 feet only to see another layer above that. Mount Livermore and baldy peak looked quite majestic in the low lying clouds. We didn’t quite realize, however, that the upper layer was actually a thunderstorm rolling in. A half mile from the summit it began to rain. We pulled out our bright orange $3.00 ponchos I picked up at academy sports, wrapped the baby and child carrier in one and put the other two on my wife and oldest daughter.

 Our first view of Baldy peak (upper left) covered in fog
Baldy peak seen 278 feet below its summit right before we were forced to turn around.
We broke above one layer of clouds only to find a thunderstorm above that.
Rock outcropping below Baldy Peak

We started hearing distant thunder and decided we should quickly try to summit and get back down. Just then a bolt of lightning struck the radio towers on the summit only 278 feet above us. Some of the tour group was on top when this happened, after which they quickly started coming down. The lightning was enough to make us all decide to come back another time.

After waiting so long to summit I was somewhat disappointed at how close I came with no reward, but I was not about to risk my family for the prize. We started to hike the 1.67 miles back to the jeep where we could dry off and warm up. It rained on us the whole way down and did not let up until we reached the McIvor visitor center.

 McIvor Visitor Center

All in all we drove 6.63 miles and climbed 1404 feet from the McIvor visitor center (5907 feet) to Bridge Gap (7311 feet). From Bridge Gap we hiked 1.67 miles (one way) and climbed 1,089 feet stopping 278 feet below the summit (Baldy Peak 8378 feet). Before we made it all the way down we had already made plans to come back to summit.

 Our elevation gain driving to Bridge Gap
Our elevation gain on the hike to the summit.

Driving down from Bridge Gap on Madera Canyon Road. The road was soaked and much steeper then it looks in the video. It was really more of a controlled slide then a drive.

I have tried to provide as much information as possible regarding all aspects of this trip because I have found information somewhat lacking in my own web searches. Below you will find a PDF of a USGS map of the trails we took trying to summit. If you have questions regarding any aspect of this hike please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer your questions.


USGS Map of Livermore Road, Limpia Chute Trail, And Baldy Peak Summit Trail 

For more information please see my newest report on Mount Livermore.





7 thoughts on “Mount Livermore – Summit attempt – Davis Mountain Preserve, Texas”

  1. The elevation charts are generated by my "Motion X GPS" app for the iPhone. To publish them on the blog I do a screen capture and then crop out the part I want. My only wish is that it displayed elevation over miles instead of min.

  2. You know… I hate reading your blog. It keeps filling my mind with more stuff I need to do. So many things, so little time. 😉

  3. MySightPicture,

    I know how you feel… Lately I have been very blessed to be able to go every weekend. I'm sure its going to slow down before too long.

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