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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.

Ortega Ridge, NM

no permit
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Guide 0 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Distance One Way 3.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,605 feet
Elevation Gain 3,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,300 feet
Avg Time One Way 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Aug, Oct → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
0 Alternative
I can get there from here!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Ortega Ridge divides the two main western drainages flowing off of Ortega Peak. The lower section of the Ridge holds a variety of homes scattered around the dramatic rock precipice that crowns the first mile. The homes and the shear rock cliffs that surround the crown make it impractical to attempt to hike the lower portion. The best approach is to hike up either the North or South Ortega Canyon drainages and access the Ridge at the very obvious saddle, about a mile in. If you follow the South Ortega Canyon you might as well hike on up to the first waterfall, then reverse back to the side drainage taking you up and onto the Ridge. It would be a shame to miss that section of Ortega Canyon!

Once on the Ridge you have fairly open, if often steep, access to range back and forth to enjoy views down into either canyon. You also have options for descending down into the canyon bottoms, but exercise caution. The rock here is often razor sharp, and can be loose and unstable.

Proceeding up the Ridge you will eventually be confronted by a band of rock wall forming the crest of the meadow plateau that runs west and north from Ortega Peak. Ascend that barrior and proceed on to the Peak, connecting with T119 ("A" Trail) for any easier hike back down to town, or follow Lost Trail around and down to the northwest. Walking back down the Ridge is probably the easiest option if you do not plan to include the walk up to the top of Ortega Peak.

This is a nice hike to enjoy on some of the colder winter days when full sunlight exposure is a welcome idea.

The hike is all off trail. Exercise care and caution... lots of prickly stuff up there!

If you begin this Ridge hike using Ortega Canyon South, please park at the lower city water tank, not near the upper tanks. That area is private property, and you will be crossing private land in the early portion of the hike. Be quiet and respectful to preserve our ongoing access to this area.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2011-12-06 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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Ortega Ridge
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    Fourth month of the progressive canyon series was less progressive yet still very appreciated. last minute changes yielded seven hikers for this bit of up down/in out... and the shorter day seemed well enjoyed by everyone. Lisa will hopefully come again... and next time bring along more than a pint of water in a waist pack with no food! I gave her three qts of energy drink to carry her day; she did great! I was in the final stages (I hope!) of my first head cold since 1994... a bit dingy with the low grade fever... but it was a much easier day... on mileage and elevation... and no demanding climbs.

    A good day.

    Next month... back to harder!
    Ortega Ridge
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    Aleana drove over from El Paso... her first time to hike here. Emphasis on photos for her, and looking for more difficult hikes. So, did a sampler loop. She will be back for more.

    Displaced my training day; I need to get back on schedule with that!

    Heading back up to explore the Cave on Friday; see if there is more to it than initially appears...
    Ortega Ridge
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    no one signed up for this first of series canyon traversing hikes, so I diverted a couple hours over to re-routing and improving the traversing sections... the really nice augment: connected the section from Ortega South, middle above the lower dryfall, to Jim's Cut.. and across "A" Ridge North and down into Terri's Cut right above the middle falls where Terri's Traverse connects over from the "A" trail. So... now we have a great route that allows easy access across three canyons and all the connecting ridges.

    These "minor" canyons (rising into the 6,000' levels as opposed to 7,000'+ of the major cuts) make for great intermediate level hikes... as does just hiking the big cuts to about that level. Nice to not have to do in/out routes...

    It will be interesting to see just how many different connecting lower loops we can develop from all these lower traverses. Terri is back next month; perhaps start a weekly series based on just that?

    Light rain... but hopefully it will clear by 3pm for the Beginner's Hike over in the Alamo Canyon drainage.
    Ortega Ridge
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    Earlier start was nice.. need to remember to pre-pack to get out the door with momentum. Light rain midday... had to stop and slice off the pants legs (too hot!) "A" trail staying in reasonably good shape; makes me wonder why it was in such poor condition for the last 20 years! I can not see letting it get that bad again.

    Hope to quit driving to trailheads and get back to walking from home like in 2011.
    Ortega Ridge
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    Early start was lessened by too little sleep... I'd planned to log longer hours but I couldn't reach the cached water on Ortega Peak, so I headed back down early. Ran into Jim just above the trailhead; he was just headed out at noon, up into the heat I was happy to be getting out of.

    More sleep... more fluids... longer hours: all goals for JUne?
    Ortega Ridge
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    Terri's Friday group (with no more Terri!) has dwindled down to Cathy! Ross joined in for this group outing with speculation about whether or not to do the second phase of the hike. Cathy had time restraints, so I adjusted the route to include the exceptional lower section and the best of the middle section. Then, I began looking for a possible connecting traverse route to allow for a more varied descent. Low and Behold: it was right there! We were able to catch not only the very best of the middle section dry falls in Ortega South, but all of the best of Jim's Cut! That made for an exceptional loop and the shortened route allows for an easy paced return to the cars in time for their noon bridge games.

    I am moving the Friday outings to 7am starts. Nicely hazy this morning so the heat was not too great of an issue, but folks were seeking out the shady rocks for the rest breaks.

    The new traversing route credits to Cathy... as might this loop in general. Done in reverse it could make an exceptional in/out hike to score the huge dryfall section in Ortega South without having to do the killer Ortega Ridge section.

    lots of hours not to score much AEG... but, exceptional settings!
    Ortega Ridge
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    John over with a request to check out the caves and Leah's Lair... so, Brenda joined us for an exploratory add-on with Ortega Canyon North extension to Michal's Traverse. We got lucky and found a drop in right at the huge dryfall formation...

    After the loop was completed, I stayed up and logged some laps... and a couple of hours of trail work.

    good day. Now... a week of pictures to edit and post!
    Ortega Ridge
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    Supposed to be a Marble Canyon Monday exploratory... but the snow was obscuring most of the area, and John committed to the long drive over from El Paso. I gave him the option of a short hike then heading up the mountain for even more snow and his first snow shoeing outing... or, we could do an interesting bit of Marble on our way to Ortega Peak.

    He opted for the hiking.

    I loaded up the new Peak log ammo box Jim had found up in Short Canyon... and off we went.

    We walked in snow once up a couple thousand feet... and I was hiking in my usual open net running shoes... with no overshoes in the pack. Soaked feet by the peak. Oh, well...

    After placing the new box and reclaiming the old one... and taking in the snow shrouded views... we headed down. I suggested some options... and we decided on Ortega Ridge. I thought it might be sun exposed enough to move us out of the snow. Eventually, it was... but we had to descend through ankle deep for miles. I finally got to strip off the soaking wet socks and put on dry... alas I still had to put the soaked shoes back on.

    I'd hiked the upper and lower section of Ortega Ridge as relief routes from the surrounding canyons; today was my first full ridge descent. It started out with a more thorough exploration of the Rock Garden area.. very nice!

    Lower down I checked out the details of the avalanche cleft that we've always figured would be an optional route into Ortega South, middle section. Not only was it good at the top, it oriented around a Rift that cut all the way through the Ridge over to Yubao's Cut off of Ortega Canyon North.

    Below The Rift, we discovered a route along the high ridge line that was accented with exceptional rock walls, creating a corridor walk that descended repeated drops... a much nicer route than hiking the easier canyon edges down off the ridge top... my usual path when traversing up or down Ortega Ridge.

    We eventually reached the Saddle... dropped down into Ortega South. John solo'd up canyon... even attempting to scale the big falls!!!

    As sunset hit we'd exited the canyon and made our way along the pipeline trail back to our cars.

    I feel like I should re-write the description for Ortega Ridge to include this higher oriented route... or... just let folks be surprised by what I failed to say about the Ridge?

    All in all.. great day out!

    Pics tomorrow!
    Ortega Ridge
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    8 hikers out for the really great section of canyon below the first falls... 4 went on up to enjoy the bedrock hiway of the middle section of the canyon... then, traversed up and out... over to the Spur canyon... and on over to "A" trail for the loop back to the car.

    I'd forgotten that the middle canyon is solid bedrock for the entire length!

    Nice outing...

    Full Photoset on Google+:
    Ortega Ridge
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    Weather was cold and questionable. Everyone cancelled for the Meetup hike, so I deviated from the plan and headed up to check out the cut up in Ortega North that Yubao had begun to explore during a break on a group hike last year. He noted then it was way overgrown…

    …it was… but just at the canyon mouth. Working through the blockade of boulder tumble and plants the canyon instantly opened up to bedrock. It stayed bedrock for a long time. And, for the first tenth of a mile it was staircase bedrock climbing close to 300’! It was pure fun; I had to wonder whether or not I had to give the hike a difficult rating… and I guess it is necessary. A grade of 3,000’ per mile… overgrowth and treacherous rock. Yet, I’m out of shape and was fully enjoying the hike.

    It was more difficult higher up… so, I guess it will get a hard rating.

    Once terminating the canyon I drifted over to Ortega Ridge and hiked on up to the base of Ortega Peak. I took the easy option of the trail down off the mountain. Oddly enough, I fell… first time this year… just walking on the official trail! Hundreds of hours over terrible terrain and I fall on the trail.


    I’m realizing there may be 100 local hikes available… immediately from the edge of town. 20 in the Basin… 15 Marble Canyon… 20+ Alamo Canyon… 10 Ridge hikes…. 20 upper connecting hikes… 15 Associated canyons…? Guess I should make a list. And, I am still discovering new routes… not sure when that will draw to a close. Of course, I could hop in my truck and drive a bit and it expands tremendously. Who Knew!?

    Good that I hiked long on Saturday… woke up Sunday morning to 6” snow and still falling… I’ll hike, but it will be much shorter!

    Monday: Still snowing!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Alamogordo's main drag, White Sands Blvd, proceed east up 10th street to Scenic Drive. Turn left (north) and follow Scenic until you see the Funeral Home and Churchs on your right. Turn right (east) and follow Thunder Rd. up through the housing development. Pull in next to the City Water Tank and park. Do not park at the upper water tanks... walk up the road and follow the drainage up into the canyon.
    page created by imike on Dec 06 2011 1:03 pm
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