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Horse Ridge, 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 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,535 feet
Elevation Gain 2,600 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,750 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.66
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
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Water
Horse Ride without the Gee!
by imike

This Ridge forms the north side of Beeman Canyon, and effectively is the last access up into the mountains from Alamogordo, taking off from the north end of town. Route finding is simple if hiking down the ridge. You have the option of walking up on the crest, looking west into and across the Tularosa Basin, south on down the frontal range, east and north over into Dry Canyon, seeing Sierra Blanca in the far distance. Or, you can drop down slightly into Beeman Canyon and walk the top of the cliff edges. That offers the better views and some very nice walking.

If you are hiking from the bottom, you have to choose which feeder ridge to hike up. It does not really matter, but there has been a pattern of use on the ridge that begins a bit further up and into Beeman Canyon. If you choose not to head up the obvious longer ridge on your left, then hike up the wash or old jeep track (they both end up the same place) and once in site of the secondary ridge, make your move to the left. If you're lucky (?) you might spot some old cairns or ribbons posted by some horse riders. For some very odd reason they marked this ridge route for quite aways up... even once on the ridge.

Once on the ridge it is simple... keep moving up! It looks steep, but really is a fairly easy hike for off trail ridge hiking. You will eventually top out at the little peak point above the narrowing of Beeman Canyon. From this point on, consider angling down towards the cliff face below you on the right, then simply follow the cliff edge around Beeman Canyon. It will offer great views of the Jumble, the congested rock maze in the bottom of Beeman... then later, just pleasant walking as you wind your way around and up into and above the North Fork of Beeman Canyon. Once above and past the Forks, the ridge continues up following the North Spur, the furthest north drainage of Beeman Canyon. Looking down you'll note the old jeep/ATV tracks riding the ridge between the Spur drainage and the North Fork drainage... leading up to the meadow and connecting with the Forest Service 4 wheel drive route up to the top of Horse Ridge and Winter Peak.

If you are hiking up the ridge, you may want to consider looping back down the North Spur... and enjoying the pleasant hiking and down climbing through the Jumble in Beeman Canyon. If you continue on up past the meadow, you will be walking the jeep road. Probably will not be too many vehicles, but they are possible. The noise you hear is the boom of guns... the most popular target practice range is off Hiway 82 in Dry Canyon, below you to the North.

The real way to enjoy Horse Ridge is to down hike it, using it as the second half of a loop after coming up Beeman Ridge, Beeman Canyon (any of the 3 routes)or any route that takes in Winter Peak.

Mileage and elevation for your hike will be determined by just how far up you go.

The plants and rocks along the ridge are all sharp and prickly. Nice to have gloves along. As with all off trail environments, most of the rocks are not stable. Walk carefully out there!

You can drive closer into the mouth of Beeman Canyon, but I prefer to leave my car out along the Scenic Drive Blvd, parking in the church parking lot or at the Maze. Use your own judgement...the gravel track off of Scenic (behind the church) is rough... and the chances for vandalism have to be greater back in there.

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

2010-10-19 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
    Horse Ridge
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    Checked out a portion of the potential Basin Cliffs Trail route... long approach with over 3,000' of climbing to get to the trail at the Dry Canyon Traverse saddle. Mary and Ross along for this difficult day. We only covered about 1/3 of the cliffs, then descended down an exceptional ridge route to exit on the Mineral Springs Trail. ten hour effort that got lucky on the weather... but still saw all of us deploying our umbrellas for some afternoon shade.

    This trail will takes years to develop, but once completed will likely be the best trail loop in the area. Eventually it will connect across and down to the Garden Wall and the Mineral Springs single track?

    Nice hard day out!
    Horse Ridge
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    Good Stuff... Bad Stuff... lots on interesting stuff. Not sure why this hike beat me up so bad, but I'm foot sore, leg tired and thinking about going to bed... now (3pm)!

    Good Stuff: checked out the full length of the historic horse track up Beeman Ridge, along the Sentinels Bench traversing into Beeman Canyon above the Jumble... then snaking and sneaking up and around into the North Fork, finally connecting with the old jeep track coming down from Winter Peak. Nice to finally locate that entire old track.

    Interesting Stuff: numerous traversing options to address The Wall on Beeman Ridge... switchbacks... Horse Canyon Ledges... Horse Canyon Falls and Bench... additional hangglide launch ramp? Very interesting: discovered old well/spring on the spur off of Beeman Ridge Spur trail... looks like a brick chimney, in fact: squarish rock substantially inlaid into hillside.

    Bad Stuff...descending the "real" Horse Ridge. I'd always cut down the first inner ridge: easy walking... simple descent to the canyon bottom. Today, after spotting five oddly dressed hikers below us, I stayed with the main Ridge tracking them. Noted that this route did have a real trail as opposed to just free walking the ridge top... unfortunately, the path followed an old jeep track. Terrible walking! Ross was mumbling and suggesting various easier exits... good idea but I wanted to track the road/trail to its origin. This section followed a very taxing section of Ridge ascent that was a bit too much... the combination added to the descent through the terraced cliffs was way too much. Also, clouds refused to shadow over us!

    This is a trail section not to repeat.

    The five hikers diverted down yet another ridge/trail that I did not know about (into Dry Canyon). I'd been wanting to check out the canyon running along the west side of that ridge; never occurred to me to hike the ridge. It overlooks hiway 82... constant traffic noise. The traffic activity was even distracting on the ridge we were going down, a canyon further removed. I guess I have to check out the trail, but like this trail on Horse Ridge, the Description will be more to tell people to not hike them; there are better routes.

    Lots of off trail winding up and down... first half of the day was all good. Second part was bad.
    Horse Ridge
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    First thought was to hit Ortega Peak with a weighted pack to get back on track after missing that yesterday. Second thought was my energy felt low. I opted for the much easier single track up Mineral Springs... with thoughts of going slow and eliminating some of the potential egress routes up to the cliffs. I was thinking less than four hours total for the day.

    At the end of four hours I was far and gone...

    Ten hours seemed to round out the day nicely. Energy never did come up but I just continued to move... very slowly.

    I discovered yet another old trail, this one a Spur route off Beeman Ridge. It looks like an old horse trail with some recent ATV and hiking activity. I still cannot figure why folks place cairns along canyon bottoms and ridge tops... how can you possibly get lost along either route!? Also, may be developing an alternative route up and around The Wall to allow for more hiking and less scrambling to connect the lower with the upper section of the Ridge.

    It was interesting; the point I'd reached at the end of four hours was probably just a bit over a mile from my truck... yet the route I hiked from that point to descend to the truck took three hours before it finally turned to start taking me closer to the vehicle. I was three miles away by that time. But, all of that was fairly easy walking and the final two miles was nearly flat sidewalk. I'm sure it was an easier route and probably faster. The alternative descent would have included 40-50 degree slopes with cliff scrambling. Loose scree... those oh, so careful foot placements that include moments of balance and rebalance... then the searching for the next down step. And then there are those moments wherein balance fails. I think the technical term is falling. I did some of that tracking uphill. Downhill would likely have rounded out an interesting number of those moments. So, the longer, easier, safer... faster return route.

    Wish I'd packed an additional couple of quarts of fluid. Day was saved with the heavy rain clouds rolled in dropping the temps 20 degrees!

    So... low energy... still can move.

    Note: No one spotted the weird, evil alien in the photoset... guess hikers see clouds... on other sites it was spotted by 50+ people....
    Horse Ridge
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    Hauled tools up for work on the Horse Ridge trail... which should go fast. Then, I'll play with the route along the base of the cliffs below Winter Peak, ideally scoring a connecting loop over to the Garden Wall. That would be a great hike. Today, just checking out the route after some up/down laps for AEG.
    Horse Ridge
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    Not the earliest of starts, but early enough. Perfect temps as I climbed the "A" Trail... cool air was flowing down the hill and most of the ascent was nicely in shadow. Once above 8,000' the air was just cool, even in full sun. Part of that may have been the steady all day breezes?

    The crutch continues to slow the pace... what should have been a brisk 9 hours was closer to 12 hours.

    Descending, it remained cool and nicely breezy to below 6,000'. All in all... just a great day out.

    I hit Ortega Peak going and coming... no way to double log on the links?

    Big, fluffy Thunderheads piling up over the mountain as the day ended... must have been great in the shade up of top!
    Horse Ridge
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    Exploratory Monday
    Awake, then up around 3am... supposed to be Marble Madness Monday, but last week's Marble foibles were a bit more than I was in the mood for this morning... so, on the "A" at 5am... 43 degrees and shorts/T shirt felt ideal... though it was pitch dark out!

    After a nice warmup into a stiff headwind, I decided to explore the canyon I'd spotted yesterday: up Lost Trail Canyon South... it looked nice and simple. It was... but good, and that lead me on up to complete the ridge it was bisecting: Ortega Ridge North!

    I found myself criss-crossing the ridge time and again... great views down into Ortega North, siting the overly impressive dry fall formations I've hiked so many times... then back to check out the upper regions of Lost Trail Canyon South... which I may not have yet hiked?

    It was great! I have a new favorite Ridge Hike!!

    Eventually, up and on top of our Fraggle Rock... and I figured I should just keep it a Ridge Day, so on up to the Horse Ridge/Ortega Traverse... and on to Ortega Peak.

    I met up with Jim near the bottom of the "A"... was going to loop back up for more training, but knee felt a bit glitchy.

    All in all... a good day.

    Once again getting way behind on writing up Descriptions: Fissure-Leah's Lair, "A" Trail Survey, Michal's Traverse, Horse Ridge-Ortega Traverse, Ortega Ridge-North, Tub Rock Cut, and Six other canyons over in the Marble Drainage!

    To Hike or to Write... that is the question... :(
    Horse Ridge
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Wow... that was a much different Beeman Canyon experience than my first outing up there! Instead of walking the 5 miles over to the Canyon, I drove over, even driving the dirt track right up and into the drainage. The Jumbles were fun, but seemed to be over way too soon. by the end of the first two hours I was sitting up on top of the waterfall above that fun section. Instead of hiking in on the old Jeep/Atv track, I walked the drainage... much nicer!

    It was just a few minutes of hiking to reach the Forks above the waterfall... and it was nice to find that the North Fork of Beeman was really a better ascent than the main fork... rockier, more closed in. As many times as it appeared to be closing out, it always opened up. It is nice to know it provides a route all the way up and out. The upper end narrows into a narrow V, then climbs up and out through Knee Oak... nicely in fall color right now.

    I topped out in 4 hours, with the hike going at an easy pace... the Jumbles... picture taking.

    The walk along the jeep road down from Winter Peak is not the greatest, but it did not take long, and it was an easy traverse from the meadow up onto the ridge of Horse Ridge for the hike back down the mountain. I chose to follow the Beeman Canyon rock cliff line, just a bit below the peak of the ridge. It made for easy walking and great overviews down into Beeman Canyon. It may add close to a mile of extra walking to loop around those cliffs, but it is well worth it.

    Lunch stop was on the cliff edges looking down on to the Jumbles.

    For some odd reason, I put on my gloves for the first time after packing up lunch... and it proved to be a good idea. Leaving the canyon edge, I climbed back up a very stickery slope and picked up the descent along the ridge line. It was easy going once back on top. In fact, there were remnants of an old path, possibly a horse trail? That continued off and on for the rest of the way down. They descended on the ridge further up into the canyon (probably the better choice) and for some reason cairned and ribboned the route. Now, this is a path along the top of a ridge, ten to fifteen yards wide. How can you get lost?

    Ribbons! :-k !?

    Anyway... down and out. With the long lunch break and the winding route it was 3.5 hours coming down. Nice day out.

    Permit $$
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    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Alamogordo's main drag, White Sands Blvd, head east on 1st, 10th or Indian Wells, connecting with Scenic Drive, then take Scenic north past the Plateau Espresso Coffee shop. If you want to park at the Maze, and walk over, pull into the next curb cut dirt track. The church is just past this, and has a large paved parking area. The street immediately before the church loops back behind the church and connects with the old jeep track. Do not park too far past the church off Scenic Drive... Walk north and east over to the mouth of Beeman Canyon, accessing the north side ridge.
    page created by imike on Oct 19 2010 3:06 pm
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