Big Hatchet Mountains

The Big Hatchet Mountains are an 18 mi (29 km) long, mountain range in southeast Hidalgo County, New Mexico, adjacent the northern border of Chihuahua state, Mexico.

Big Hatchet Mountains
Big Hatchet Peak at extreme northwest end of range
Highest point
PeakBig Hatchet Peak-(northwest perimeter of range) (Big Hatchet Mountains)
Elevation8,356 ft (2,547 m)
Coordinates31°38′07″N 108°23′56″W
Length18 mi (29 km) NW-SE
Width8 mi (13 km)
Big Hatchet Mountains-(Sheridan Wells, range center) in New Mexico
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
RegionNew Mexico Bootheel
((northwest)-Chihuahuan Desert)
Continental Divide of the Americas
DistrictHidalgo County NM
SettlementHachita, NM
Range coordinates31°35′50″N 108°20′14″W
Borders onLittle Hatchet Mountains-NNW
Hatchita Valley-N & NE
Playas Valley-NW, W & SW
Alamo Hueco Mountains-S

The range lies just south of a westerly excursion of the Continental Divide of the Americas; it lies on the eastern perimeter of the extensive, narrow, and north-south Playas Valley, and is the center range of three mostly arid, low to moderate-elevation ranges that lie on the valley's east perimeter. The mountain range lies in the extreme northwest of the Chihuahuan Desert.


The range is 18 mi long and only about 8 mi wide. It trends northwest by southeast as does the Alamo Hueco Mountains to the south; the Little Hatchet Mountains bordering the range northwest, trend similarly, but have a more true north traverse.

Geology, ecology, and access

Geologically this range is part of the Basin and Range Province which spans much of the southwestern U.S. and parts of northern Mexico. It is a fault-block range made up of Paleozoic limestone and Cretaceous shale and sandstones.[1]

Ecologically, the Big Hatchet Mountains lie near the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sonoran Desert, but their large relief provides many ecological niches more in keeping with the mountains to the north. Notable inhabitants include bats, raptors, bighorn sheep, and javelina.[1]

The Big Hatchet Mountains are far from population centers, and have no paved road access or developed recreation sites; they therefore see little recreational activity other than long-distance hikers who are either starting or completing the Continental Divide Trail. However, the standard route on the peak, along the South Ridge from Thompson Canyon, is straightforward.


The highest peak in the range, Big Hatchet Peak, 8,366 feet (2,550 m),[2] is at the northwest terminus of the range; the peak is located at 31°38′07″N 108°23′56″W. Another peak anchors the southeast terminus of the range, New Well Peak, at 6,284 feet (1,915 m).

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

The Continental Divide lies north of the Big Hatchet Mountains and traverses the northern Playas Valley on its water divide. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is routed through the Big Hatchet's on two alternative trails, one at the center and the other in the north; also subtrails lead off in a southeasterly direction. The main traverse of the CDT exits from the southwest quarter of the range, to meet the northwest end of the Alamo Hueco Mountains.


  1. Butterfield, Mike, and Greene, Peter, Mike Butterfield's Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico, New Mexico Magazine Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-937206-88-1
  2. New Mexico, DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, p. 52-53.
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