Distance: 9.2 miles
Season: Summer, Fall
Trail Conditions: Good
This is a pleasant, but at times difficult hike following a ridge line up to one of the less dramatic peaks in the Latir Wilderness. Compared to other Wilderness Areas in northern New Mexico, the Latirs see relatively few people and this hike sees even fewer. And although the peak itself may not be as dramatic as it’s neighbors the east, the views of the Latirs, the Valle Vidal and the Taos mountains are spectacular.
From Questa, go north of the junction for Red River for 2 miles and turn right onto Llano Road, which eventually becomes Forest Road 134. After a couple miles, you will pass the turn off for Cabresto Lake. About 8.5 miles after that turnoff, there will be a small grassy parking area on the left side of the road where you should see some signage for the Midnight Trail – Trail #81. Park here.
From the trailhead on FR 134, the Midnight Trail – Trail #81, takes off on the left side of a large meadow. The first 50 yards are faint, but the trail quickly picks up once it enters the dense timber. It climbs for a little bit before starting to switchback and from here, it climbs steeply for the next mile. There are a few downed trees, but overall, it is in good condition.
After about one mile, the travel levels off and joins an old roadbed and continues to contour to the left. Over the next 1/2 mile, as the trail stays relatively flat, there are a few side trails that intersect the ridge. Ignore these. Continue straight and remain on the ridge.
The trail eventually wraps around to the right side of a small knob and continues to climb until the trail joins the ridge again. From this point on, the trail climbs consistently all the way to Baldy Mountain. It passes a number of saddles along the way, but remains on the ridge more or less.
The trail doesn’t enter the Wilderness until the final stretch towards Baldy. After a small climb after passing into the Wilderness, the trail tops out on a small meadow. Up until this point, the trail was in amazingly good condition, but fades slightly in the meadow. There are a few cairns to help guide you, but as long as you are looking out, you should be able to pick up the trail as it bypasses the summit of Baldy Mountain (12,047 feet). It’s a less than 5 minute side trip to the top, and well worth the views.
From here, you can return along the same trail. If you are in need of water or have some extra time, continue for another .8 miles down to Baldy cabin. However, note that you will be dropping and ascending 700 feet each way.