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Pock Rock Canyon, 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.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 1
Grade1
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Risk
Time
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,111 feet
Elevation Gain 1,200 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.9
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
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 → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Water
Bad Start...Good Finish!
by imike

As you drive up Alamo Canyon Road to the trailhead parking for Alamo Canyon Trail (T104), glancing left you gaze up into the most dramatic rockbound drainage mouth of the entire Alamogordo Canyon System. The rock cliffs tower around the narrow opening, and the cliffs appear to progressively fill the upper canyon section, promising pour overs, ledges, falls and a multitude of rock textures. Those are not empty promises.


Park at the trailhead for Trail 104 (The city water system at the upper end of Alamo Canyon Road) and make your way cross country over to the mouth of the canyon just to the north. You can cross the private land directly adjacent to the water facility, or move up the hill 100' and cross the fence into National Forest land, then follow the fence line to the canyon drainage. This is not a fun traverse, but neither is it too difficult.

Pock Rock is one of the more rugged drainages. Overhanging soil sidebanks, crumbly rock, and assorted jumbles make traversing up the canyon more challenging, and possibly more dangerous than most of the other local canyon ascents. The climbs are just a bit more challenging.

I was welcomed on my exploratory hike by a small coral snake and a grouping of 12-15 Big Horn Sheep, typical to the 5,000' level of these canyon mouths.

The canyon splits less than a mile from the beginning. I took the right fork. It offered up a nice variety of rock then finally a 60' waterfall, pleasantly climbable, but the first forty feet are fully exposed. If you slip you will fall the full forty feet to the bottom. In general the progress up the canyon was stair step waterfalls with great side views of the surrounding convoluted and striated rock walls. The rock side cliffs are impressive.

Not too far above the big falls, the canyon narrowed then spread out into a broad upper meadow. I moved left and out across the dividing ridge between the two forks of the canyon. Gazing down into the left hand branch of the drainage I realized that it was the main part of the canyon, topping out substantially higher up, accessing The Mesa. That branch was more open, with long stretches of solid rock walkways... appealing, but not worth missing the big fall for? I'll have to check that out another day.

I continued on up onto and across The Mesa to descend Goat Springs Trail. Shorter options would have been down the next drainage to the north, RockaChucky, or around and down The Gap.

From my house, 1.5 miles away from the trailhead, and including the loop across The Mesa, down Goat Springs trail, then the walk back home (...another 1.5 miles) the hike only used up six hours at an easy pace.

Pock Rock Canyon was a very pleasant discovery; not for everyone, but for those looking for a bit of a change with a touch more challenge, yet shorter... possibly ideal.

Again, this drainage felt more dangerous. Caution should be exercised.

Do as I say, not as I do!

Check out the Triplog.

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

2011-11-14 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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Darrel and two El Paso hikers over... Black Rocks scheduled, but since none of these folks had yet done Pock Rock, opted to do this exceptional cut instead. Added in small bit of exploratory... south side cliff edge exit over to Cleft. It was good. That is where the short route exit trail will go.

    Down and out Cave Canyon trail... four hours of challenging fun...
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ross, Mary and Firstimer, Jason (over from El Paso). As always, exceptional moments.

    We explored a new, shorter... lower exit option. Great sidehill trails connected by heading briefly up the South Fortk... then traversing the canyon side above the cliff edges... up and around to the saddle above Ross's Cut. We dropped into the crazy steep East Side Cleft...down to the PockRock Cliffs. Alas... remains of our old trail gone! Looks like it might be time to redo... even reroute?

    Nice shorter day...
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    19 hikers showed up for this final group hike of the season... bit more challenging than most of the Canyon Light series, but just right for this group. We used the new exit route down and around the Busted Buttress...over to the Cave Canyon trail. This will likely be improved to a real trail over time. It provides great contrasts to the canyon ascent.

    I might be back... sort of!
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Mary completed her first hike up this exceptional cut, sort of graduating in the ClassII level of canyoneering. She agreed this loop is just the best. We rounded out the day with a Mesa Loop... descent down and around Goat Springs... maybe a bit too much. I scored sore muscles (too many missed days of late!)
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    For our PI Day hike... we departed 3.14.15 9.26... Ross fed us fresh apple pi with apples from his orchard. The two visiting Italian hikers got a taste of a bit rougher routing. We ascended Cave canyon, looped over into Pock Rock and hit the Cliffs... then up the hidden cleft to the top of Alamo Ridge. From there we got lucky and descended just right to catch the cliff ledge that lets us down right at the Busted Buttress Cave.

    Rougher yet to make our way off the hill... but very nice morning outing!

    https://plus.google.co...
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ross and Will along for this mid canyon exploratory. Turns out this section houses the most impressive water fall feature in the Alamo area, and right now it even has water! Upper pools can be heard streaming water between the three pools... then, there are a variety of additional pools at various levels along the length of the bedrock falls. Impressive.

    We did a steep exit, and hiked over to check out both The Cascades and lower Pock Rock...

    nice day
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    A great loop... and then some packless wandering...

    Rounding the Roundup… this loop may well be the best trail hike in the Alamo area.

    Starting off from the Alamo Canyon trailhead, the half mile walk along t104 is all old road… and just at the point where that trail turns into slogging up the canyon bottom, instead a short cut over to start up the newly signed Roundup Canyon Trail (t107). Newly signed, yet never maintained… it is rough! Today, We only use it to ascend to the top of the cliffed bench winding around the west, north and south sides of the Roundup Grounds Plateau. Once up, we soon take off across the broad meadow, walking the short track easterly or striking out along the cliff edges for better views.

    The Roundup Grounds Trail stayed with the cliff edges ranging along Deadman Canyon, proceeding counter clockwise; we follow clockwise ranging over Alamo Canyon.

    Great views to the south of RockSprings Canyon and RockSprings ridge; best route to make your way up to the Lady. You can easily spot the mistake of trying to hike down and off the ridge: cliffs out!

    Crossing the meadow area you look north to see the features along Alamo Ridge: Alamo Point, Busted Buttress, Side Canyon and finally, The Gap. The Gap really is far enough along to be a feature off of The Mesa, and Gap Canyon affords the potential to access the Mesa from Alamo Canyon.

    The far side of the meadow and the trail moves into Arch Canyon with a great dryfall to extend the first break of the day. For our beginner’s hikes this is often our turnaround point. Nap on the bedrock slabs or go play in the namesake Arch.

    Though from this point on the trail clings close to the top of the cliffs, you are not really aware of that feature. The views are too distracting; the walking is easy; the vistas too inviting. It’s difficult not to reflect on hiking one of the canyons or ridges that constantly turn into view as you work your way around the bends.

    The canyon past the Gap, also rising up to meet the Mesa, fails to allow reasonable egress. That adventure will be up and back down… or will have to include a high traverse around to the Gap… or east over into the next drainage: the Picnic Canyons.

    More often than not, the Picnics are hiked for the great lower Dryfall formations in the bisecting bottom cuts; they are impressive. Venture beyond and above either of those falls and you will be earning your way. The Picnics include six upper drainages… all extremely challenging.

    As the cliffs trails makes the sharp bend to the south, Caballero Canyon splits off to the east. You can look across and spot the trail… and look beyond and catch glimpses of Hershberger Canyon, the south door to Hershberger Peak.

    Dividing Caballero Canyon and Alamo Canyon: Aquaduct Ridge. The City pipeline comes pouring over the cliffs opposite the Roundup Cliffs trail that we are hiking. That used to be our exit route… grab hold and cling for a very steep descent. Now, we hike the easy trail down Pipe Springs Canyon; it comes into view as we hike the close cliff edges of the last section before intersecting T107 near its upper trailhead.

    Before we drop down to T107 there are views up Alamo Canyon and perspective views on Purgatory Canyon and Purgatory Ridge. If you know what you are looking at you can also see Alamo Peak and Purgatory Peak in the far distance.

    Turning up T107 we soon spot the split where Roundup Trail Canyon departs from the main Roundup Canyon. The primary canyon rises up to splay out below Long Ridge. Looking back we can see the upper T107 Trailhead down in Alamo Canyon… just across from Pipe Springs Canyon. At the old metal trough the trail takes off around out of that canyon to rejoin and cross it higher up… a cattle path used to access the water above and below. It really is a piped spring; the ranchers have tapped into the city water line ! The lower trough is filled by an abs line on the surface… makes it easy to follow the path when exiting or entering the canyon.

    T107 is not hard on the east side… and generally flat as it crosses the upper saddle. It winds down gently next to one of the Deadman Canyon cuts to start out. In fact, you can effect an off trail traverse from all the easterly branches of upper Deadman over to T107 for a simple exit.

    Unfortunately, decades without maintenance have made the west side descent on the trail not as nice. It is steep. It is rough. It does afford great vista views: Upper Deadman… Upper RockSpring… The Hole in the Wall… Steamboat… The Lady. All Nice.

    Once down near the lower cliff tops note the final carsonite sign. It marks the intersection for the Spur trail over into Deadman Canyon; very handy route.

    As we pass our initial point of departure for the Roundup Cliffs loop and wind down the final section of T107, the entry dryfall at the mouth of RockSprings Canyon stands out… very inviting bit of terraced slabs.

    I’ve hiked these routes dozens of times. I typically move at a brisk pace. I look at what surrounds me, but rarely do I really see to the extent of taking everything in… I find that the benefit of my recent knee injury has gifted me with a slower, more absorptive pace. I see more.

    My list of exploratory hikes right in the areas I’ve been hiking for years grows with each outing!

    Of course maybe I’m not so slow…

    I noted when I hit the far end of T107 I’d averaged around 1.6 mph. Before I’d reached the saddle my average had jumped up to 6.8 mph! I’d scored the increase all on the uphill! …and, in less than half a mile! 3.5 hours out with an average pace of 6.8 mph… Wow!

    Damn GPS.

    It did make me reflect back on being a trail runner and really averaging 7 mph over legs of the relay races I used to run, Hood to Coast being my favorite. Was not all that long ago… 1998?

    On this day, in this time… I walk. I see.

    Another great day out… and, if someone would log a few hours cleaning up T107, this would be the best trail loop in the area.
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    John drove up from El Paso... Jody and Rosario along for the day. Cool temps with light rain made everyone very happy! The shorter south loop lacked the nice scrambles of the north cut... but, the exit down Cave Ridge, over Cave Peak (scored a lucky downclimb cleft through those cliffs)...down Ross's Route and up to the Cave... great finish to this loop. Over too soon!

    Good group.. great day. Early finish.

    I started to drive over to add Ortega Peak into my afternoon... but then decided that I should not overdo since I have a timed ascent scheduled for tomorrow. Once home I realized that today is Saturday... not Sunday. I only have weeny easy hikes tomorrow. So, maybe I'll head back out later today?
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Early start... earlier finish with this overly steep routing.

    Pretty much closes out this month of training for high daily AEG... it was not like I thought it would be. I projected lots of overly long days: 6,000'+, x4 9,000' days and one or two 12,000' days. I did not hit any of those upper limits. I thought I'd do easier laps with no pack. I did some like that, but more days were up difficult routes taking many more hours to score the AEG... and, there were lots of heavier pack days. There was no highend cardio training. There was no speedy ascents/descents. It was a long, slow month.

    Now... what might April be?
    Pock Rock Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hard not to put this little gem on the Fall calendar. John drove over from El Paso for his first hike with our Meetup.com group. Terri expanded her canyoneering experience with this challenging, shorter canyon outing.

    We added in the upper reaches of the canyon today. In all of the prior trips we'd been exiting the canyon onto the adjacent ridge that splits the two upper branches of the canyon. this time, we remained in the main cut... and it was good! More bedrock falls... lots of additional mini-climbs... overall just a better augment to the day.

    We hit the Mesa and looped around and down Rockachucky and Prominent Point...

    For some reason, I was beat up by days end... tired! (out of shape!??)

    Very good day out!

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

    To canyon trip
    From the main drag in Alamogordo, White Sands Blvd, take 1st Street east to Scenic Drive, then follow Scenic drive south until you reach the city water tank... move around the left side of the water tank onto Alamo Canyon Rd, and follow it to it's end. Park next to the city water system.
    page created by imike on Nov 14 2011 3:03 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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