Mount Withington • South San Mateo Mountains
• Socorro County


Distance shot of the range


Mount Withington, closer in


Beth at the lookout tower

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Date: September 5, 2005 • Elevation: 10,115 feet • Prominence: 2,315 feet • Distance: 0.2 mile • Time: 3 hours driving to and from the highway • Gain: 30 feet • Conditions: Developing thunderstorms • Teammates: Beth

Mount Withington is the highest point of the South San Mateo Mountains, a forested peak located in southern Socorro County, not too far from the Very Large Array telescope complex, but far from any towns of any size. The remoteness of this peak means it sees few visitors despite the fact it has good road access to the very top, and good hiking trails in the region.

Beth and I were here while passing through from Datil, on our way for a hike South Baldy Peak, which we did yesterday. Our original plan was to head west into the San Mateo range and camp not far below Withington's summit, and hike it the next morning. However, the rains that had been dogging us on our trip so far had made the approach roads into the range slick and boggy. We drove a few miles until it was clear we'd get stuck, so we backtracked into the town of Magdalena, got a room, and decided to try again the next day (being today). The highlight was meeting Ringo the Kitty, who apparently is the boss of the hotel.

The next day, we gave Mount Withington another attempt, and were happy to see the roads had dried enough to allow us passage. But the clouds were building again and looked threatening. We hoped to park and make a short hike of the peak, but opted to drive all the way to the top due to the potential for storms.

Our visit to the summit was short, enough to snap a few photos. Then we backtracked, and the rain soon followed. We had a picnic along side roads out on the foothills, and spent the remaining part of the day with an extended visit to the Very Large Array.

In May 2006 we planned to come back, camp and hike up Mount Withington, but this time rain wasn't the issue: the lack of it was. The forests were closed due to the extreme fire danger, so all recreational activity was banned. We had no choice but to move on. We certainly intend to come back to Mount Withington and hike it as it looks like a fun hike in a beautiful area of the state. Maybe the weather and conditions will allow us passage some day.

(c) 2005, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.