Since the Cerrillos Hills are desert country this wasn’t a ramble through brambles; rather it was a scramble through rough, rocky terrain trying to avoid slipping into the many patches of living and dead cacti blocking every turn. We weren’t always successful avoiding the cactus thorns. But we were successful at reaching our goal, the summit of Grand Central Mountain.
We have done several hikes at Cerrillos Hills State Park and there are many well-marked, historically interesting trails. But just north of the state park, on an area of BLM land, sits Grand Central Mountain, which has no official trail for climbing to the top. We got close to it on one of our hikes awhile back and have always meant to go back there and make our way to the top. Today seemed like a good day to do the climb.
The trails in the state park that you start off on are quite a contrast to what you have to do once you leave the northernmost trail and head off towards the mountain. It’s not like this is a huge mountain, but the terrain is really rough. Cerrillos Hills look fairly benign from the distance but once you get in amongst them, there are sharp dips and steep inclines up and down through arroyos and over loose rocks and boulders. Hiking off trails through dry grasses and sticker bushes requires high-top boots or gaiters, neither of which I have, so I’m constanly complaining about getting my boots full of prickly debris.
We couldn’t have picked a better day, though, for doing this hike. In the morning it looked like it could become a windy, New Mexico spring day, but the winds seemed to die down as the day progressed. There was just enough of a breeze to keep us from getting too hot. It was a struggle on the steepest slopes, but once we got back down and on the main trail I forgot all about my complaints and was thankful for another day of great hiking.