Lookout Mountain is the highest peak in Lincoln County (and I think the 3rd highest peak in New Mexico?) It's a stone throw away from Sierra Blanca Peak, which is the tallest southernmost peak in the continental USA.
We'll be hiking the Crest Trail up to Lookout Mountain, starting at the Scenic Trail (which starts north of the Ski Apache's parking lot). The climb is over 2000 ft in 3.5 mi (~7 mi roundtrip), peaking at 11,500 ft. Needless to say, it's strenuous, though the trail itself is well-maintained and otherwise an easy walk (no climbing involved). Note that this is almost 3x the elevation of El Paso, and the elevation will make breathing challenging. See our route via KML (for Google Earth) or on Google Maps (the file says 8 mi, which assumes we walk towards the Sierra Blanca Peak fenceline). At the top of Lookout Mountain, there is both a seating area and snack stand (see photo). While tough, this isn't the middle of nowhere—please join!
Every foot of the trek is a gorgeous vista of the Capitan Mountains, and once at the top, more gorgeous views of all directions. If you don't want to hike back down you can take the gondola (for a fee), or ski down (not sure how that'd work).
- Las Cruces: At 7:15 am, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. See map (OpenStreetMap or Google Maps). Get onto US 70 and head west until you hit Ruidoso, then pass it to get to Ruidoso Downs.
- El Paso: At 7:00 am, Walmart at Transmountain/US 54 at the west-most parking lot towards US 54. See map (Google Maps). Take US 54 north to Alamogordo, and then get onto US 70 west (don't veer north on US 54 when it splits in Tularosa).
- Ruidoso: At 9:00 am, Ruidoso Downs Walmart parking lot, northwest corner, on US 70. See map (OpenStreetMap or Google Maps). Ruidoso Down is a mile or two west of Ruidoso on US 70, and the Walmart turn-off has a traffic light—you can't miss it.
Traffic tip: don't speed in Tularosa (speed limit: 35 mph) or Mescalero (45 mph).
Tentative weather report: high of 67°F, night low of 36°F. There will be snow, but probably very, very little. It is always windy at those altitudes, so bring a wind breaker.
While 7 mi may seem short, you'll definitely get a workout from the altitude. We can find another trail in the area (there are many) afterward if people want to tack on more mileage.