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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Mule Canyon, NM

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208 13 2
Guide 13 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
Rated
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0 of 5 by 0
 
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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.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 1
Grade2
Water
Risk
Time
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,613 feet
Elevation Gain 1,700 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,700 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.47
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
18  2017-02-02 imike
38  2016-12-27
Tuff Slot
imike
15  2016-11-15 imike
36  2016-03-02
Mule Dead Elk Spur
imike
36  2016-02-18 imike
20  2012-10-28 imike
45  2010-03-18
Mule Peak
imike
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:34am - 5:02pm
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Route Scout App
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Official Route
 
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Water
Nearby Area Water
Mule Peak
0.0 mi away
7.0 mi
3,612 ft
Powerline Road Alamo Canyon
Powerline Road Alamo Canyon
1.9 mi away
2.5 mi
550 ft
Deadman Canyon: South Fork
Deadman Canyon: South Fork
1.9 mi away
2.0 mi
1,540 ft
Caballero Canyon North
1.9 mi away
7.0 mi
2,740 ft
Hershberger Canyon
1.9 mi away
5.0 mi
2,600 ft
Black Rock Canyon
1.9 mi away
4.7 mi
2,300 ft
Purgatory Canyon
Purgatory Canyon
1.9 mi away
4.9 mi
1,900 ft
Alamo Canyon Trail #104
Alamo Canyon Trail #104
1.9 mi away
7.0 mi
2,432 ft
Deadman Canyon: North Fork
2.0 mi away
5.0 mi
1,900 ft
Alamogordo Trailheads
2.0 mi away
8.0 mi
450 ft
[ View More! ]
Less Is More...
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Though Mule Canyon extends for many miles on past this 2.8 mile point, that upper portion lacks the character and drama of the lower canyon. Additionally, it is mostly overgrown with nasty, thorny things. The large waterfall blocking access to the upper portion just makes for a nice destination and logical stopping point.


Just south of Alamogordo, and directly adjacent to the small community of Oro Vista lies the Mule Canyon drainage. As with all of these frontal range canyons, the characteristics of the rock strata and vista views are substantially different from it's counterpoints. While this canyon begins as a fairly narrow defile, it rapidly opens up to a broader basin with dramatic views of the cliffs and buttes far above. There is more of a southwest feel about the settings with towering buttresses first offering glimpses, then coming into obvious prominence.

The hiking is easy, with an extremely low gradient for the first few miles. You even pass through a small riparian area early on... complete with a running spring and stand of assorted trees. The rock strata at the level of the canyon bottom appears to be volcanic in origin, dark and pitted and interestingly carved. There are some potential side canyon drainages that might make for interesting exploring, but the main drainage continues to entice with it's ever opening views up canyon.

After the first couple of miles, the character of the hiking changes. The easy passage gives way to more difficult maneuvering, with some minor scrambling up blockages. Fortunately, a route does always present itself; there is no major blockage. The hike continues in this vein, with the climbing/scrambling getting ever more challenging as you approach the major waterfall feature a bit over 2.75 miles into the canyon. This tiered falls creates a cascade blockage near to a hundred feet, and is the logical end to hiking this canyon. It is traversable around either side with a very steep scramble, but not really worth the effort unless your intent is to proceed on up to Mule Peak or the meadows surrounding that high point.

If you do make this extra effort to get above the falls, the next half mile of canyon is very nice, including a very narrow grotto area with a fun climb out the far end. If you bring along rope to rappel down the falls, then it could make for an added bit of fun to scale up to that slightly higher level.

The first few miles of this canyon hike would be very suitable for even beginner hikers, and ideal for someone just getting into a bit of rock scrambling. This upper portion might present more challenge than a beginner would desire.

Beyond that short section of canyon above the falls, the canyon broadens out and the drainage diffuses into broken meadows and thorn choked gullies. It is not worth the effort to continue up the drainage; enjoy the lower canyon areas instead.

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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    Drive to the small community of Oro Vista, south of Alamogordo, following Hamilton Road south, turning then east on Solano Drive, following it to it's end. Turn right (south) on San Pedro, then left (east) on to Simon Lane. Follow Simon the short distance to it's end at Old El Paso Hwy. Here, turn left (north) and follow the rough dirt track out to the second main turn to the right, which will lead you up the grade to the mouth of the canyon.
    page created by imike on Mar 19 2010 12:41 pm
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