2016 PSA Trek: Itinerary Planning

by | Feb 27, 2016 | Annual Reunion & Trek, Gathering

It’s time to start planning your itinerary for the PSA Trek July 10 – 17, $515 per person. Whatever itinerary you come up with, you need to know the basics of itinerary planning at Philmont. Here they are.

The 9,000-foot Rule

Philmont requires that the first three nights at Philmont be slept under 9,000 feet elevation. You can hike as high as you want on any day. The reason for this rule is altitude sickness prevention. Your itinerary must comply with this requirement. The night before reporting to the Welcome Center, July 9, must be spent in the Philmont area and that counts as the first night. The night of July 10, spent in Camper Tent City, counts as the second night. In order to be compliant with the rule, the first night on the trail must be spent at an official Philmont starting camp, including Minette Meadows on the Cimarroncita tract, or one of the following staffed camps: Zastrow, Carson Meadows, Abreu, Urraca, Crater Lake, Miner’s Park, Clark’s Fork, Cito, Hunting Lodge, Harlan, Indian Writings, Ponil, Pueblano or Dean Cow. Trekkers providing their own transportation to the Valle can spend the first night at Ring Place or Whiteman Vega. No exceptions, even if a camp is below 9,000 feet. Note that if you spend the first night at Minette Meadows on the Cimarroncita tract, your gateway to the rest of Philmont is via Ute Park Pass.

Itinerary Length

Hikes on successive days should generally be in conformity with hikes found in approved Philmont itineraries. Itineraries with hikes substantially exceeding the length of those found in approved Philmont itineraries may be subject to disapproval by Logistics. Even though your itinerary may comply with 9,000-foot rule and be in conformity with hikes found in the approved itineraries, your itinerary should be appropriate for the hiking abilities of your crew. Not everyone can do a super-strenuous itinerary.


Itineraries shall include the opportunity for 3 hours of conservation work. Conservation can be done at the following locations:

  1. Whiteman Vega – new trail construction/trail maintenance, meet at Whiteman Vega
  2. Flume Canyon to Elkhorn – new trail construction, meet at Flume Canyon
  3. Indian Writings to Chase Canyon – new trail construction, meet at Indian Writings
  4. Harlan to Deer Lake – new trail construction, meet at ???
  5. Hidden Valley to Cathedral Rock Camp – new trail construction, meet in between Window Rock and Hidden Valley
  6. Whistle Punk Camp to Cyphers Mine – new trail construction, meet at Whistle Punk Camp
  7. Crater Lake – Trail construction
  8. Beaubien (backcountry staff/self-led)
  9. Apache Springs (backcountry staff/self-led)
  10. Clear Creek (backcountry staff/self-led)

With all these opportunities, meeting the conservation requirements in 2016 should be easy.

Bus drop-off/pick-up points

Your itinerary planning must take into account the established bus drop-off/pick-up points. These points are Cimarroncita (replacing Bear Canyon) 6 Mile Gate, 9 Mile Gate (Ponil Road), Chase Ranch, Cito, Lover’s Leap, Ponil, Rayado (Kit Carson Museum), Turkey Creek and Zastrow. In addition to the above, personal vehicles may be used to get you to and from the “parking lot” south of Whiteman Vega Camp in the Valle Vidal on Cerrososo Road east of McCrystal campground. Personal vehicles are not permitted at the Maxwell turnaround, and there is no bus service, either.

Food Pick-up Points

Your itinerary should provide for food pick-ups. You can pick up food at Ring Place, Rich Cabins, Baldy Town, Ponil, Ute Gulch, Phillips Junction, Miner’s Park and Apache Springs.


Your itinerary planning should include consideration of drop-off and pick-up points, hiking abilities of crew members, food pick-up, and compliance with the 9,000-foot rule. The rest is up to you. Get your Philmont maps out, start planning itineraries, share those itineraries with friends, and join in the fun of planning! Your Trek experience starts now.