Ascent of Church Mountain on 2020-11-30
|Date:||Monday, November 30, 2020|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-New Mexico|
| Elevation:||8802 ft / 2682 m|
Ascent Trip ReportIt took me a little time to figure out how to access this peak, as the mouth of Tortolita Canyon (which would provide easy access) is blocked by private property.
From the 37, drive 4 miles west on Nogal Canyon road and park in a large dirt lot on the right hand side with a few fire rings. About half a mile back, you would have passed a home that blocks the southeast terminus of the Tortolita Canyon trail. From the parking area, there's a use trail that heads east and takes you there. The use trail is a bit hard to find at first, but it becomes quite good and obvious after a hundred feet or less. Once you reach the Tortolita Canyon Trail, follow it north for about 2.5 miles as its climbs 600 feet and then drops 900 feet into Tortolita Canyon.
Once in Tortolita Canyon, hike west 1.5 miles on an old road and look for the junction with the Church Mountain Trail heading north. There is an old sign on a tree here but you need to keep an eye out. The trail has seen better days, but is easy to follow once you find it. At around 8200 feet, the trail turns southeast and largely disappears, a half mile of easy cross-country travel gets you to the summit. There was a good 4" of patchy fresh snow around the 8200-8600' level when I was there, but nothing that added much difficulty.
Total stats: about 12 miles roundtrip, 3300' gain (including the 900' on the return)
I really loved this peak - a pleasant forest hike with incredible summit views, lots of evidence of wildlife (bear scat, elk and mountain lion prints), very few visitors (especially to the summit I'd imagine).
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