Last weekend I made it back to Hermits Peak with plans to summit. I made sure I had my map (and a backup) just in case I left one in the car. The weather was perfect and nothing was going to keep me from the summit this time around.
Hermits peak (10,263 feet). 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. Hermits Peak Trail (number 223) originates at the El Porvenir Campground (7,543 feet) in the Santa Fe National Forest. The Trail is easy to follow (despite my ability to lose the trail on my last attempt.) There are a few places where the trail joins an old jeep road for a short distance and then turns back north. Watch for the trail signs and you shouldn’t have any problems.
At the beginning of the trail you will notice a sign informing you the trail passes through private property. You will pass through an open gate in a barbwire fence shortly before crossing a small stream. For most of the way the trail climbs gradually just west of the stream. At about 1.75 miles (8,600 feet) you will cross to the East side of the stream and begin the first of about 25 switchbacks. Over the next 2 miles you will steadily gain 1,200 feet of elevation.
Just after entering the switchbacks you will start to notice the canyon walls rising on each side of you.
At the top of the switchbacks you receive your first really good view of the valley floor. The Santa Fe National Forest seems to go on forever into the surrounding foothills. From here its only about 0.6 miles and about 360 feet to the summit.