DSNA - Organ Needles Trail. is a 5.9 mile out and back trail located near Las Cruces, NM and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
Hike thru Desert Valley to the Organ Needles. NO PETS ALLOWED. CAUTION - EXTREME HIKE - rated toughest in New Mexico by BLM. 6.5 hrs is not enough. Take extra water. I camped overnight at Juniper Saddle. After paying at the visitor's center, drive west on the service road to the trailhead at the La Cueva Picnic area. On the trail at about 0.15 miles you reach a fork in the trail. Take the left fork. At about 0.75 miles you will meet the junction of the Fillmore Canyon Trail on the left. Follow this trail thru the gate a few hundred yards until you see a pile of mine tailings. Take the left fork and climb the tailings pile. Follow the trail above the tailings in the direction of the large yellow rock ahead. Just beyond the yellow rock is a good rest spot in the trees. From the trees follow the trail to the large gray rock. Climb to the left of the gray rock up to Juniper Saddle. From Juniper Saddle continue up through Dark Canyon descending the west side around the spur and up to the Needles Peak. Return via reverse route.
My cousin and I were able to reach the base of the summit in 3.5 hours, while witnessing some pretty great views on the way up. However, after spending about 4 hours trying to find a route to the peak, we were unsuccessful. We did find potential paths to the top, but the rock climbing required to follow these paths seemed rather dangerous and risky.
Also, I'm not sure if we were on the correct path when we reached the base of the peak, but that area did not have a trail - we bushwhacked like crazy and certainly fell numerous times (I'd highly recommend wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants).
Lastly, if you're hiking the trail for the first time, I'd recommend giving yourself ample time to get down the path, which is fairly steep and somewhat slippery. Even though my cousin and I made it to the top in 3.5 hours and had no issues navigating the trail, we found ourselves losing the trail down many times. There were trails that broke off from the main trail that led to dead ends (e.g., the top of a canyon). Unfortunately, our phones died on the way down, so that also made the journey a lot more difficult. So definitely don't underestimate the way down! And always, it's smart to prepare for the worst so take extra water, a flashlight, an extra phone battery, etc!
Definitely worth the time and effort, know your goal and never turn back. I parked in the La Cueva picnic area and it took me 4 hours to reach the needle, and about 2 1/2 to get down and back. I went by myself, though I definitely advise against this, luckily I ran into another hiker and we stuck together for most of it. The trail was marked often enough by cairns and the occasional white tape in trees that is was fairly easy to follow. The AllTrails app is accurate to a fault, as long as you have signal. The only truly dangerous part in my opinion was the final rock face you have to climb to reach the summit. Just keep your feet in the crack and take advantage of the ample hand holds. Don't ever trust any rope or cordage you find as an aid, you never know if they tied proper knots, or how worn the threads are. All in all it was a great hike, the views are incredible, and the challenge makes it that much more rewarding. Once you get to Juniper Saddle the environment changes drastically, lush green vegetation and the fresh smell of juniper and cedar trees. Bring at least two liters of water, you'll need it in the summer time. Lastly sign the logbook at the top, inside of the waterproof container! Enjoy!!
took me 11 hours to do the whole trip, started cramping half ways up
Incredible adventure. The views are amazing.
Got about 40' from the summit and couldn't find a way to the top. Unforgettable experience, but incredibly strenuous.
I complete it on March 2013, the most strenuous but exciting experience. The part near the summit is the most difficult, but once you get to the top, you feel a great satisfaction. It took us around 9 hours to complete it, we returned by the other side by the mountain with no trail, until we join the Fillmore Trail. The view of 360 degrees from the top is amazing!, I have to go again.
Pretty epic hike. Took about 3 hrs 45 min to get to the peak. It's pretty sketchy near the top but well worth it. There is orange tape and cairns that helped me stay on the right path; it can get a little confusing.
My friend Mary and I were within 40 minutes of summit when we faced a dilemma: With limited daylight hours remaining and day trip provisions, do we A) Summit and take about ten minutes up top before beginning the descent, or B) take out the guitars and the craft beers, and celebrate the scenery properly on the last little summit before the needles. We chose B! We stayed a little longer than prudence would have allowed though, and after losing the trail back a couple times on the way back....the last few miles through brush country with dusk and then flashlight was burly. I was completely drained after getting back to the truck, but in the glow of the aftermath of the magnificence of this hike. It didn't matter about the summit at all, but that's just how we roll.
I suggest a nice pair of gaiters, and old gear. Trust me, you will get thorns and snags and overgrown WTF sections on this hike...especially if you go it with no map like we did. It is easy to lose the trail. I'd hate to see you snag the feathers out of your $300 goose down vest.
I also suggest a couple of flashlights and extra batteries. This would be a great overnighter hike. I only suggest this as a dayhike for the seasoned outdoor enthusiast. There is a meet up group that also does this hike quite often. Don't go alone. I have some pics from that day somewhere. I will try to post in the future. Happy trails...to you.
Hardest day hike I've ever done. I started with a three mile bushwhack through cactus and thornbushes before finding fillmore canyon trail. hiked up out of the canyon and camped in a cave in yellow rocks. Made it close to the top the next day but got caught in a storm and had to turn back. Gonna make another attempt in Oct. Best hike ever.
Uploaded an image of two photos taken during the summer of 1981 of James and Bertha at the top of the peak
This is the toughest day hike in NM, and possibly in the southwest. We lost the trail a few times so it took us 12 hrs up and back. Cannot stress enough the importance of wearing pants and sleeves. I came home looking like I was crucified from all of the bushwhacking. My buddy and I, admittedly, are not experienced route finders, and we paid for it. Great views the entire way. The scramble was challenging and potentially dangerous, but as long as you go up and down the right way you should be fine.
I am a very fit and experienced hiker/navigator and even with using the AllTrails app I flat out lost the trail about 2/3 of the way. I tried and tried to find it again but eventually had to turn around due to time. It's one thing to get off trail and be able to navigate back to it, but the steep terrain and sharp brush made it far too difficult, frustrating, and painful. Also, I'm all about scrambling when needed, but be warned that parts of this trail are downright dangerous and falls would be fatal. I went alone and was terrified at some points because of losing the trail and all the loose rocks and dirt on the steep parts.
This was one of the more stressful hikes I've done in awhile... lots of steep, narrow trail sections with sharp, desert plants stabbing you along the way. Got a late start and made it to the rock scramble near the summit a little after 2, where a decent sized group of hikers were belaying down. Took the belay up, and the summit views were very rewarding and spectacular. When I went back down, the group was gone and had to go down the tricky scramble section with no support, but it wasn't as bad as it looked. (Just don't slip!) Overall it took just a bit over 7 hours, starting from the parking lot near the start of the Filmore Canyon Trail. I'm giving it 4 stars for the views, but this was not a fun hike in a lot of places (felt dangerous). I did not have problems trail finding though, as some people mentioned.
Hiked to the summit with 7 others from a Meetup.com group. Round trip took about 10.5 hours to complete. The scramble near the summit is not as difficult as I imagined. Now that I know what to expect I will do this hike again.
This was my second attempt to reach the top, this time with my friend Santiago. We had quite an adventure and together made it about a mile past Fillmore Canyon, when the trail starts getting steep, unforgiving and difficult to follow. I continued to the peak, and it was much further up than I anticipated. Use caution and take your time once you reach the crest of the needles as the trail wraps around the mountain in a few places, it's very easy to tread in the wrong direction on the way down. There are several areas where you can camp up the trail, including the peak area. The ammo can is still there just to the right tucked in a rock crevice. The most rewarding and difficult hike I've done so far.
I didn't realize I was on this trail until after I climbed an extra mile or so past Fillmore Canyon. The trail continues up the back side of Fillmore and goes straight towards the peaks. The hike is brutal but rewarding. I pushed too hard and wasn't really prepared so I had to turn back just before the final climbs to the peak (I would take the advice in the other reviews). It is wise to conserve energy for the decent. If you take even a small turn off trail coming down you can end up in serious trouble...I have a few scars...lol. Hoping to hike it again to the top with a buddy next time in the near future.
The most extreme day hike I have done yet. Be prepared for SCREE AND SCRAMBLING! This hike's scrambling rating is a Class 3+4, which means packing a rope is a very good idea, and falls may be fatal. Be sure to dedicate a whole day to this hike. Remember your days are shorter in winter. This trail is not for the beginner at all. And No pets! Far too dangerous. Hiked this today and took a good 10-11hours to complete. Hiking this in the winter makes this trail much more challenge. Slippery, icy, rock hide beneath snow drifts. We encountered many icy, loose rocks. There is some serious bush-whacking as this is not normally a maintained trail. So be prepared to come home with scratches. Though thankfully I had very little scratches. Hike in pants, with an extra base layer to reduce your exposure to those bush whacks! Also, be prepared to fall! At least once on this trail. Even the most experienced hiker with do so. So you'll also head home with some new bruises. Getting to the actual peak requires a bit of rock climbing. Which I head discourages most from ever reaching the actual peak. If rock-climbing isn't your expertise this will rattle your nerves. As it did me, but I made it. I did not want to turn back. The views are remarkable. Take some time to sign the notebook in the ammo box when you arrive at the peak. Share your story and have fun! This hike will indeed make you feel accomplished.
If you are up for a challenge this is a good hike! it took us almost 10 hours to complete it and we are in decent shape, the trails arent well maintained, I strongly recommend long sleeve, pants, and gloves. Bring atleast 4 waters, and your lunch. Ive heard of people camping out there to come down the next day. The view is beautiful, you can see white sands, and the franklin mountains from up there.I just went on January and there was a lot of snow it would go up to our knees! and the closer you get to the top the snow was turning into ice, and making it very difficult to climb. When you reach the needle mountain through the back there will be some rock climbing involved, we brought a rope but we didnt use it. Its not easy, but if you take your time you should be ok. there are a few markers along the way, very faintly but they are there. If you are a beginner hiker I dont recommend this hike, it is strenous and takes a lot of physical and mental endurance. THIS HIKE IS NOT PET FRIENDLY!!! Just be prepared to fall on your butt, and come out with a few scratches and bruces, i did get wacked in the face and arms with the bushes, also few thorns on my pants and boots. bush wacking through almost the whole hike once you pass fillmore canyon. It is not easy, but once you make it to the top its defenetly worth it! The view is like nothing around here. also once you pass the big yellow rock there is a "mini forest" you would be surprised how much green there is up there, its just wonderful a nice getaway from your usual desert scenery. defenetly worth the trouble to get there. Once you get to the top dont forget to sign in! there is a small ammo box with notebook of people who have made it and their experince, and if you are lucky the last hiker left some goodies for you :) Good luck everyone! This is the hardest hike in southern NM :)