Marble Canyon is composed of seven primary drainage canyons. The large drainages are North and South, with the southern canyon split into two drainages that both crown out around 7,000'. The North canyon has a main channel that travels nearly to the peak of Hershberger, and two spurs running off that main branch to the north, both draining Ortega Peak.
Between those main drainages lies two additional canyons: the Middle Cuts. The southern most of these is a rambling, boulder choked drainage that takes off from the main Southern Canyon cut just before the "Narrows", about a mile in from the main canyon mouth. This drainages travels up into the 6800' range before it basins out, getting a bit overgrown in that last section.
The more northern of the Middle Cuts heads out right at the point where the main North and South Canyons split. The distinctive shiprock formation setting on the bench between the two main canyons is hiding the entrance to this northern Middle Cut canyon. To enter the canyon you hike up and around the left side of the rock, into some of the most deeply eroded and interestingly shaped sculptured rock side walls. This initial canyon entry is blocked by small falls, climbable or traversable around the sides. Once around this blockage, the canyon opens up and is easily traversable for the remainder of the hike. The canyon bottom is often solid rock slab, with the upper portion slightly overgrown, but easily tracked.
You upper basin terminates around the 6400' level, running into the ridge line of the southern Middle Cut, and the ridgeline route for the new Hershberger Peak trail.
This is a great getaway hidden canyon... not that any of the drainages really see any use, but if you catch a busy weekend and need to have some private time, check out this short hike.
The southern Middle Cut is 2.5 miles long from the canyon mouth. The northern Middle Cut is 1.8 miles long from the canyon mouth.
To canyon trip In Alamogordo, travel to the far eastern end of Tenth street, and park at the small city park next to the Fire station, hike south and east over to the mouth of Marble canyon. You can drive from the park over to the canyon, but the car will likely be more secure near the fire station.
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