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The Mesa via the Cleft, NM

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
  3 of 5 
no permit
21 1 0
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,522 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,550 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.67
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
21  2010-09-28 imike
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 71 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Oct → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  4:56am - 7:15pm
0 Alternative

The Side Door...
by imike

While the Mesa stands proudly over the eastern city skyline, access to that table top ridge is limited by the vertical surround of cliffs on the North, West and South. Goat Springs trail makes it's way up through a fault over on the north side in the Marble Canyon drainage, but that trail leaves a lot to be desired, especially the section about a mile in where you walk through the backyard of the house on the hill. This route provides an alternative, off trail route.

The Cleft is a clearly visible break in the Mesa cliffs in the upper northern drainage of Quiet Canyon. Given that the monster waterfall up in Quiet kills off that path as an easy access, the better choice is to take off from the trail leading up to Prominent Point. In fact, hike up to Prominent Point, and once back behind that outcrop, instead of dropping down and south into RockaChucky Wash (another approach access to the Mesa), head slightly north and up. You may either cross over the ridge immediately, entering the Quiet Canyon drainage, or stay on the ridge and follow it up and around through the knee high desert grass, eventually crossing into Quiet nearer the Mesa Cliffs. Once over or around the ridge and into Quiet Canyon, you can look up to the cliffs a bit further north and see the Cleft... grassy, cacti filled cut breaking through the surrounding rock.

At this point you have a number of options. Head down into Quiet Canyon to check out the top of the monster waterfall that blocks off the lower canyon (you'll be above it). If you follow this route, might as well simply climb the bottom of the canyon up to the wash that comes directly down from the cleft... then work your way straight up to the cliffs. If you have followed the ridge line instead, you'll be up closer to the cliffs and past the Cleft... you'll need to work your way across the remaining portion of the canyon below the cliffs to get back over to the Cleft. Getting up and through the lose rock, cacti, volcanic rock can be an interesting challenge, but it is very doable. Go for it. Once at the cleft, you are effectively on the Mesa.

On top, you have the options to continue on up the Mesa all the way to Hershberger Peak, or follow the edge of the Mesa north around to Goat Springs trail for the easiest path back down off the mountain. Or, follow the edge of the Mesa south around to RockaChucky Wash and take it back down to Prominent Point and the trail directly back to your car. This is the more adventurous return route.

The Cleft is not clearly visible from the top of the Mesa. If you are reversing the direction of this hike and planning to drop down the Cleft, follow the rocky cliff edge around from the north until you come to a greener section comprised of mostly ocotillo... and look down for an old, dead juniper tree forking up in the middle. That is the Cleft.

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2010-09-28 imike

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking 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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the main drag in Alamogordo, White Sands Blvd, take 1st street east to Scenic Drive. Turn right (south) and follow to the end of the road, U turning to park on the north bound side of the road adjacent to the first dirt road heading towards the foothills. You could drive in, but better to simply park here. Walk east towards the obvious jeep track heading steeply up the mountain... you can either follow the dirt track, it will get there, or simply walk a beeline across the scrub.
    page created by imike on Sep 28 2010 10:21 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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