Dog Canyon is by far the most popular hiking area in these mountains, and one of the only places where you are liable to run into other hikers on the trail. It is for good reason; this is a great trail. Though starting out up an overly steep grade out of Oliver Lee State Park, the hike eases up after the first mile and then wanders around, up and over the sidecuts below the towering cliffs on either side of the canyon. The normal destination for most of the adventurous tourist hikers are the old ruins of the line cabin up below the falls, where the trail finally traverses to the north side of the drainage. Beyond this point, the true climbing begins, switchbacking and traversing a narrow bench below the prominent cliffs known as the Eyebrow... that sections is considered a bit too much by many: too much steep and too much exposure. The steep is valid, the exposure is an illusion. The trail is cut 30 to 50 feet from the cliff edges, and though at a steep slant to the edge, it is doubtful that anyone falling off the trail would make it down and over the side of the cliff.
Dog Point, the destination of this hike, is the highest point above those towering cliffs on the north side of the canyon (on your left as you hike up the canyon). Though it does not stand out as a visible high point from anywhere on the trail, it is impressive to imagine that you are headed to a point that towers above the very cliffs towering above you during the lower portion of this hike. Dog Point, really an unnamed highpoint on the map, is the 7753' high point along Joplin Ridge, and offers a 360 degree view of that mountain section. To the west lies the Tularosa Basin and the outstanding White Sands National Monument. To the north lies the San Andreas Canyon drainage. To the east, the inner valley that separates the frontal range from the upper range is exposed for miles. To the south, across the Dog Canyon Drainage, can be seen Gobbler Knob, the high point over the next drainage: Escondido Canyon. It is truly a Panoramic view.
Initially, the hike is trail 106, Dog Canyon National Recreational Trail, to it's terminus with forest road 90B, at mile post 5.5 (the entire trail is blazed with mile markers, every .25 miles in the lower sections, and every .5 mile in the upper reaches.) At this point in the hike, turn left on the old jeep road and follow it for about .75 mile where it splits, follow the left hand track on up the hill. You have effectively topped out on Joplin Ridge once you've reached FR 90B. You will reach the peak shortly after.
You will note on your left during this final section that you are now simply retracing your path over the long meadow you crossed between mile 4.5 and mile 5... just a few hundred feet below you.
A consideration for alternative route on your way up is to depart the main trail at mile marker 4.5 and head directly up the hill to the north (left) and skip that extra bit of mileage, although it is a pretty section.
I would definitely use the direct downhill route on the return trip unless you just want that extra mileage.
This is a great easy day out/back destination hike. In the winter, the meadow above 6,000' can be snow covered. Take proper gear.
The peak can be accessed by ATV from above. Forest Road 90 (West Side Road) provides access to the entire frontal range from that 7500' level.
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.
Information is listed below
Paved - Car Okay
To hike From Alamogordo, take hiway 54 south towards ElPaso, approximately 11 miles to turnoff for Oliver Lee State Park. Drive to park and park at Visitor Center. There is an entry fee. If you are going to be doing much in New Mexico, consider the annual pass, or even the annual camping pass, a really great deal.
Note: there is a great hot shower down in the large rest room mid park. Feels great to hit that after the hours on the trail!