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Organ Needle

Organ Needle is the highest point in the Organ Mountains, at 8980 ft. If you're coming on this hike, you probably know more than I need to explain.

This is probably among the most difficult "trail" hikes in the state of New Mexico, if not the most difficult. While only some 8–9 mi, we'll be climbing over 3800 ft. When we did this in September, it took 11 hours. With a slightly cleaner trail and hopefully everyone knowing what to expect, we should be able to do it more quickly, but it's unlikely to be any faster than 8 or 9 hours.

Apparently Organ Needle is rated a 3+/4 on the Yosemite Decimal Scale, which means there is climbing with exposure. This only exists for a short segment (10 feet?) at the top, for which we'll be bringing a rope.

Please bring (other than the obvious):

  • As much water as you can carry. You can leave the water at Juniper Saddle to pickup on the way back down. About ⅔'s of the way up, there is also a water cache.
  • Clippers. Please help maintain the trail—it needs it! The most annoying part of this trail was how overgrown it was. We'll have at least 1 pair of lopping sheers and hand clippers; it'd useful if others brought their own and clipped whatever bothered them along the trail.
  • Saturday's forecast is 66°F in town—which means it may be as cold as 50°F in the shade up in the mountains. Think about bringing a coat or sweater.
  • Lightweight flashlight. It's entirely likely (but not desirable) that something happens and we end up coming down after dark.

DISTANCE is is 8–9 mi, out and back.

ELEVATION GAIN is almost 4000 ft gained.

FEES: $5/vehicle, paid at the trailhead If you have a Federal Lands Pass, please bring them; they are accepted here.

DURATION: All day. Please do not expect less!

PET FRIENDLY? No; pets are not allowed in Drippings Springs Natural Area.

SKILL LEVEL is extremely, extremely difficult & strenous.

TERRAIN loose, desert-plant mountainside. The trail is becomes unbelievably steep after 2.5 miles in.

WEATHER is clear w/ a high of 66°F.

AFTERWARDS we'll see.

MEET for carpool at:

  • Las Cruces: 7:30 am, in/outside Milagro Coffee at Pan Am Plaza. See map (OpenStreetMap or Google Maps).
  • Fillmore Canyon Trail head, La Cueva Picnic Ground, Dripping Springs Natural Area: before 8 am. We leave 8 sharp!

MORE information:

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  • Randy

    awesome photos Samat!

    November 1, 2012

  • Samat

    Two words: ass-kicking.

    October 28, 2012

  • Randy

    Having camped/hiked in the lower elevations of these beautiful mountains, I finally wanted to check out the upper reaches. Because of the treacherous nature, it is something I would not attempt alone. This hike offering made it possible. Plus it was fun to drive over and hike with a meetup group in a different city. Nice folks who looked out for each other on this tough adventure. Thanks Samat and Yubeo.

    October 28, 2012

  • michal

    Very interesting to hear the various opinions of this hike! I loved the vistas and settings up to Yellow Rocks... above that, more of a peak bagger route... good for some, questionable for others. I'll be back to check it out again...

    October 27, 2012

  • Robert H.

    Tough hike. On section, climbed over 2000 feet in less than than a mile. [masked] feet a mile is consider relativly steep. Was steeper than climbing stairs but in much poorer shape than stairs. Even with this, hike rated a 5 for the challenge, the weather, the folks I was hiking with.

    October 27, 2012

  • Randy

    Nice updated info. And yeah, I sort of knew most of that already from my research. But important to post so folks know what they are in for! Found Milagro and timed my drive to there from my motel (12 minutes). Let's hope they don't have any more roaster fires! lol. Stopped for a beer at Las Cruces Taproom (Mimbres) and old reliable High Desert. Should be a fine day on the mountain!

    October 26, 2012

  • Samat

    Something to be aware of: there's a frost advisory tonight (till 9 am tomorrow). Definitely, there will be ice up there—unlikely anything of major concern. For any last minute question/comments whatever, please text (preferred) or call me at [masked]-3020. See everyone tomorrow!

    1 · October 26, 2012

  • michal

    Wow...I'm online out here at the campsite! Checked out the jeep road; it is rough...I can walk faster than driving! I probably will come in through the park this time. Checked with the volunteer at the office...she said the national pass is good for entry? See evereyone tomorrow, though it looks like everyone is getting fewer!

    1 · October 26, 2012

  • michal

    not sure if I'll be back online between now and the hike... you can probably leave a message on my phone. I will bring the rope. I plan to meet you guys up on the trail... do not wait for me at the park! Should be a fun outing!

    October 25, 2012

  • Yubao

    Please, hikers, show up on time. We will leave Milagro Coffee promptly at 7:30 without waiting for any stragglers; and we will hit the trail head as soon as we gathered at the La Cueva picnic area parking lot. The reason is very simple, we have to make good time, not to mention that we should be on time to begin with.
    Talking about time, concerns have been raised on this discussion whether we will have enough day time or not. I want to further remind all of us signed up that it's a very, very strenuous hike, and please be prepared. We are targeting somewhere between 8 to 10 hours. But keep in mind the last time we did it, it took us almost 11 hours.

    October 24, 2012

    • Samat

      Doh, I'm the one that set the time & location… I'm wondering, should we meet earlier: Milagros at 7, and La Cueva at 7:30? Despite my trying to get the gate open earlier than 8, the current volunteers open it earlier than 8 anyway.

      October 24, 2012

    • Yubao

      Let's leave it that way. So long as we are aware of time, I think we should be fine.

      1 · October 24, 2012

  • Robert H.

    I understand this will be a long hike. Should we meet a little earlier to give us a little more time with light at the end of the day?

    October 22, 2012

    • Yubao

      I am pretty optimistic that we will have enough time to do it before it's dark.

      October 24, 2012

    • Samat

      @Randy The mine road is an extra (boring!) 2–3 mi, and requires high-clearance 4WD to get very far. Also, this Saturday summer hours (7 pm close) are still in effect.

      1 · October 24, 2012

  • Yubao

    Mike, welcome back to this Needle thing! Remember the day we did it together that was the very first time for both of us? And 3 rattlers?

    October 18, 2012

    • Yubao

      Well, the earlier comment was supposed to answer Michal's where to meet question. And I meant Carol named Juniper Saddle. If any grammatical errors are spotted in my writings, my ready excuse has always been, well... it's not my first language!

      October 24, 2012

    • michal

      I recall Yellow Rock... nice spot to connect! interesting that you are up on the computer at 2am... I assume you have yet to go to bed. 2:20am for me, I just got up!

      October 24, 2012

  • michal

    from which access road will we be approaching this hike... I will be coming across Baylor Canyon road... might even drive in the night before and camp out up the old jeep track. Where to meet up?

    October 17, 2012

  • michal

    The next day I plan to hike Mule Canyon (Sunday 28th)... over in the Alamo area... one of the bigger effort hikes... it is a more dramatic canyon, much like Dog Canyon... climbs a bit more demanding... nice easy ridge top hike out of canyon and a walk through an abandoned observatory. Makes for a longer day. Folks interested in rounding out their weekend coordinate with me for this one. Not for Beginners.

    September 30, 2012

    • Yubao

      Count me in, Michal!

      September 30, 2012

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