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Continental Divide Trail: Mexico Border to Hachita, New Mexico

Cruise the desert on this 50.5-mile leg of the Continental Divide Trail through the Chihuahua Desert in the Bootheel region of New Mexico.

Rating

This section is one of the last remaining outposts where you canstill glimpse the Old West, reports mapper Andrew Matranga, who charted this rugged tour de force through the creosote flats and cholla jungles of New Mexico’s boot heel. Here, the desert reveals its Jekyll-and-Hyde dualism. Some moments, it envelops you in a tranquil, gold-streaked sunrise; other times, it lashes you with skinscouring winds. If you go, cache water, buy a wide-brimmed hat, and wear low gaiters to guard against sand and cactus needles. The flat terrain means you can log big miles, but scant water means you’ll carry hefty loads. From the Crazy Cook Monument, which marks the CDT’s official southern terminus, the path crawls northwest across sagebrush flats to the Big Hatchet Mountains. Camp at the mouth of Sheridan Canyon, 17 miles from the border, where a shade tree blocks the sun. On day two, trek across a windblown landscape and paved NM 81 to camp at Granite Pass, overlooking the Little Hatchets. The next day runs through rock gardens with foot-long lizards, then past Broken Jug Pass, Hachita Peak, and an 1880s mining encampment.Cross the Continental Divide—here, it’s an indistinct point on theplain—then press on to NM 9 and your hike’s end.Mapped by Team Southern Terminus: Dave German, Judy Rittenhouse, Jim Newman Jimmy McElroy, Brian Daigle, Andrew Matranga

To Trailhead

This is a remote trailhead and transportation can be difficult. From Hachita, take NM 81 S. Turn L @ BLM Wilderness Study Area and parallel the Big Hatchets until windmill at the old Mengus Camp. Turn L and bounce on rutted roads until barbed-wire fence. CDT Guide Sam Hughes can help with shuttles and logistics (Fees vary. Send correspondence to: P.O. Box 95, Hachita, NM, 88040).

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