While most folks think of Water Canyon as the drainage area off the south side of the Old Sunspot Hiway Road, there is an entirely different perspective to be experienced. All you have to do is walk down off that roadway and traipse along the bottom of the drainage.
Before there was an Old Sunspot Hiway, slicing around the side of the ridges above the canyon bottom, there was an old logging road dredged along the bottom of the canyon, winding side to side, crisscrossing the stream. It is along this old route where the nicer trek is to be found.
It is odd that even though the newer road is just a short distance away, once you are down along the stream, you do not notice that intrusion. The effective portion of this canyon route starts at the lower end at the intersection with the Willie White Trail; at Telephone Canyon. From there, you wind up and around to Brown Canyon. Past Brown Canyon the drainage narrows into a near gully-like cut, and eventually, the trail comes to a halt at a rocky talus slope coming in from your right. At this point, you follow the trail up through the rocks to the Old Sunspot Hiway Road... but just for a short distance. As you walk along the road you can look immediately to your left and note the intersection of the Brown Canyon loop heading back along the far side of Water Canyon... above the gully cut and around into the trees. To access, cross the stream at the barb wire fence posts...
Continuing up canyon: Moving back into the stream bottom, allowing the hiway to move off and away to your right, you will once again enjoy the lush meadow cut of the canyon bottom... soon to be intersecting Deadman canyon, coming around and in on your left. If you follow Deadman Canyon you can connect directly up with FR 64, or connect to the Brown Deadman Loop (6409)... or, just follow Water Canyon on up, eventually branching away from the power poles (they follow the entire length of this canyon) to your left. This fork will carry you up to an old logging road on your left... or just stay in the canyon bottom and emerge onto FR64 at the top of the drainage.
If you are starting from the upper trailhead, which is nicer, simply head over to the metal bar barrier on your right at the marked 640B barriers... and then drop into the drainage on your left, anytime over the next .2 mile as you walk along this old logging road.
From the bottom, simply start at the Willie White Trailhead on Old Sunspot Hiway (5009)
Great hiking and great mountain biking... with lots of connecting potentials.
One-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.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay
To hike From Cloudcroft, take state road 130 out of town 1.8 miles, to the Sunspot Hiway (6563) and follow it to milepost 13, turning left onto Forest Road 64. Follow this road just a short distance (.3 mile?) and look for the metal swing pole barriers on your left... marked 640B... park here... take off down the barricaded road on the far right. Drop into the drainage to the left of that old road within the next .2 mile.