Changing... to stay the Same!
The Forest Service recently re-designated the orientation of their Trail #119. This is the "A" trail that winds down from West Side Road, dropping 2600' to the edge of the city below. At least it used to drop down from West Side Road. Now, the maps are all wrong. The official start for this trail begins inland from the main road, giving over it's upper section to Dry Canyon Trail (#5573). Now, to access T119, you need to head down T5573 for less than 1/2 mile to intersect the new trailhead.
Note: T119 is now marked on the maps incorrectly.
It appears this alteration was to facilitate the ATV access along that route. The Forest Service must have finally decided it would be easier to give in to the illegal use... fighting it was not a winning approach. The huge boulders that were periodically rolled across the trail to block the access was just as readily rolled away by the ATV advocates. So, now, it is legal to ride the ATV's down that route, connecting the full length from lower Dry Canyon.
The new trailhead sign for #119 does designate that the route on down to the city is not open to ATV use, but the abuse on the upper portions will likely continue. The sign also says that the trail is open to motorcycle use; interesting in that the lower trailhead sign now designates that "A" trail is no longer open for motor bikes. I guess you can ride down the hill but not up?
Trail 119 remains the best hiking route for accessing West Side road from Alamogordo, or visa versa... it passes adjacent to the two highest points: Ortega Peak and Hershberger Peak. It is the only non-canyon route up and down the mountain. It also provides an easy connection to the extended reaches of Mineral Springs Trail and the Ortega/Dry Canyon Traverse, creating looping options for all of the Alamogordo area canyon hikes.
Below Ortega Peak, the trail averages over 900' per mile in up/down gradient... this is the trail to enjoy some high quality training, yet it rarely sees much hiking traffic.
So... everything changes... and, pretty much stays the same.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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