Southern Terminus of Continental Divide Trail and the Big Hatchet Mountains

Description: For most adventurers, reflecting on the accomplishment of hiking either terminus of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is reason enough. However, the southernmost 50 miles of the CDT, between the US/Mexico border and State Highway 9 near Hachita traverse the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert—North America’s largest—and boasts an extensive history of war, pioneering adventure, and Native American resettlement to add to its mystique.

Thru-hikers of the CDT typically cache water on their way to the border by car and then hike between re-supply points over the next few days. Solitude and uninterrupted views abound in this harsh landscape, a landscape made softer by the long shadows after sunrise and before sunset. Particularly appealing are the sheer limestone cliffs of the Big Hatchet Mountains that jut to an elevation of 8,366 feet, 4,000 feet above the basin floor.

The Hatchets are located at the crossroads of the temperate Rocky Mountains and the tropical Sierra Madre Occidental, as well as two major deserts—the Sonoran and the Chihuahuan. As a result, the area is rich in diversity of plants and animals, some of which are not common elsewhere in New Mexico. This makes the Greater Big Hatchets Area a critical biotic link for various species migrating between Mexico and the US. Steep cliffs provide nesting habitat for golden eagles, kestrels, and other raptors. Other species of note found in the area include desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, javelina, mountain lion, thick-billed kingbird, varied bunting, several species of rattlesnakes and the Sonoran mountain kingsnake.

Check weather conditions as it varies widely throughout the year. This section is not recommended during the hot, dry summer months.

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 40+ miles, one-way.

Directions: To access the CDT’s southern terminus remote location take Interstate 10 east from Lordsburg, NM to Exit 49. Take NM 146 South to Hachita. In Hatchita, go east on NM 9 and then south on NM 81. Continue south for approximately 11 miles and just before the curve in the highway, turn left onto the graded dirt road (all roads beyond this point are dirt). Set your odometer, travel approximately 3 miles, and turn right. Go another 3 miles and turn left. Follow this road around the base of the Big Hatchet Mountains for about 20 miles to a windmill and go east for 2 miles. Within 100 yards, you will be at the international boundary barbed wire fence. At the cattle guard, there is a concrete monument commemorating the Crazy cook who murdered someone at this site. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is 200 yards north along the border fence from this monument.

Maps: USGS 7.5 Quadrangles: Campbell Well, Cabin Wells, Sheridan Canyon, U Bar Ridge, Big Hatchet Peak, Hatchet Ranch, Hatchita Peak, Playas Peak, BLM:1:100K .

Other Information: Please use the information provided on the new BLM website to avoid trespassing on private property and border protocol for parking.

Bureau of Land Management’s Las Cruces Field Office: 575-525-4300.