Beeman Ridge is the very long frontal ridge overshadowing Alamogordo from the far north end of town, running all the way over to Hershberger Peak. The six mile designation listed here stops a bit short, ending at Ortega Peak. In fact, if you plan to do an out and back hike, you may want to stop at Winter Peak, the high point used by the paragliders. To go beyond Winter Peak you have to downclimb the cliff area and lose elevation before you ascend back up to Ortega Peak. Ortega is a logical destination only because it is the connecting point for a "real" trail back down to the valley floor. You could also drop off the ridge before reaching Ortega, connecting with Lost Trail.
The biggest decision to make is just how to complete the day. If you go all the way to Ortega, off trail, then you may be looking forward to a nice on trail hike back. If you do this loop instead of out and back, I'd suggest parking your car at the trailhead for "A", the Ortega Peak trail, walk over to Beeman along the city streets early in the morning (4 miles) and enjoy having your car ready and waiting for you at the end of the trail. Ortega down to the base is around 3 miles, so this loop will have you vesting in 13-14 miles for the day, half of that entirely off trail with substantial elevation gain.
In addition to great exercise, this hike is all about distant vistas. You will have an ever increasing overview of the Tularosa Basin, including the White Sands National Monument. Obviously, you will have city views unless you hike up the Beeman Canyon side of the hill (this ridge forms the southern side of Beeman Canyon). Once higher, Sierra Blanca will come into view with far vistas to the north.
An additional interesting option for a shuttle is to get up early and throw your bike in the car... drive up to Dry Canyon off of Hiway 82. Park at the Base of the hill below Winter Peak (or if you love 4 wheeling, park up at Winter Peak!)... then coast your bike back into town, leaving the car waiting up on top.
There is no technical challenge to this hike, but it is demanding, both in length, elevation and terrain. Everyone in your party should be in good shape; there is no easy shortcut exit. If you are going all the way over to Ortega Peak, pick your descent down off of Winter Peak carefully. On the far south end it is cliffed out. You may want to drop off the upper ridge early and walk around under the base of the cliffs.
All in all, this is a great, full day's outing.
Enjoy! - Oct 09 2010 imikeOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example