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Marble Canyon - Middle, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,620 feet
Elevation Gain 1,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,900 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.83
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Post the 1st photoset!
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:52am - 6:01pm
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Water
They're There...Really!
by imike

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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2010-03-11 imike
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Marble Canyon - Middle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    exploratory for ridge route to the peak... much nicer ascending west end of ridge, cutting across middle north canyon... climbing the north ridge... we descended potential spur trail along Hershberger Ridge South to the Narrows in Marble South...

    spotted yet another canyon in Marble North (Shadow?)...

    Very nice loop... Ross enjoying all of this?
    Marble Canyon - Middle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We were scheduled to hike Quarry Canyon, but Will had just completed that loop on Sunday... so, up yet another one of the exceptional Marble Canyon drainages: the Best: Marble South!

    We moved up and into the narrows and Will immediately realized the aesthetics and settings just took an acute notch up... and as always, around every turn was more of that better stuff. We hiked the introduction section up to the end of the Beginner's section at the bedrock falls/slab.

    At that point, we reversed and hiked back to the north spur... headed up that to the huge blocking Dryfall... then reversed yet again, this time traversing the ridge using the staircase (bedrock walkway with a steep but moderate track)...crossing the ridge we waded through the flowers down into Surprise Canyon (Marble Middle South)... and enjoyed our descent along what may be the best of the bedrock walkways.

    Both of us felt we'd been out for three hours... though six hours had passed! This loop is just that nice; you get lost in the moments. Time to give this over to the local hikers... it is on our Meetup Schedule for the next month.
    Marble Canyon - Middle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ready for a shorter, easier day... and that is what we scored. Once up to the blocking dryfall formation up the North Spur, we found an interesting bedrock cleft to escalate our way to the north ridge...and over into the Marble Middle South canyon... right at the nice mid section.

    Ross had not done either of these canyons and I'd never descended the Middle South. We were both impressed; that is one great canyon. I did not take the time to notice just how exceptional the one other time I'd hiked up it. Not sure how I could have missed it. So... down and out for a much easier day. I nearly tagged on Quarry canyon for an additional 1800'; I went home and napped instead!

    Longer tomorrow!
    Marble Canyon - Middle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Started the hike from the house, walked over to Marble Canyon and hiked in, turning up the Middle Fork, south branch. I'd forgotten how nice this one is. Energy was not great but I plodded on up to the top of the canyon, and found some nice little falls to climb, then exited onto the Ridge... checking out more options for a potential new peak trail. Found some nice areas to wind a trail around and through. Was not paying attention heading down and followed the wrong meadow... my intent was to loop to the Mesa, and instead I was heading down into Marble Canyon south... had to reverse back up and move on around the mountain.

    Energy never did come up, but it was an nice outing. Looking over and down into Marble Canyon South got me anxious to get to that canyon hike... just a couple weeks away!

    Found a large elk rack... carried it down off the mountain...not sure why.
    Marble Canyon - Middle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Explored the Middle Cut drainages in Marble Canyon, and reviewed the potential entry points for the Hershberger Peak ridge trail. Snow storm turned me around shy of the peak, but made it to top of both mid canyons... then, hit Goat Springs trail on way home... shorter day than planned, but did not feel like fighting the cold and wet up higher..

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    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.
    page created by imike on Mar 11 2010 3:25 pm
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