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Overlook Canyon, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,453 feet
Elevation Gain 827 feet
Accumulated Gain 988 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.34
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Post the 1st photoset!
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:56am - 4:58pm
Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Campsite Cut
0.1 mi away
0.5 mi
150 ft
Fenceline Canyon
0.3 mi away
1.1 mi
256 ft
Overlook Ridge
0.4 mi away
0.5 mi
33 ft
Rock Pile Road
0.4 mi away
2.1 mi
1,066 ft
Bull Elk Trail
0.5 mi away
1.5 mi
336 ft
Upper Wills Canyon Trail #9278
Upper Wills Canyon Trail #9278
0.6 mi away
4.0 mi
324 ft
Hubbell Canyon Trail #9277
Hubbell Canyon Trail #9277
0.7 mi away
4.4 mi
40 ft
Upper Wills Canyon Shortcut #9278a
0.9 mi away
0.5 mi
139 ft
Thousand Mile Canyon Trail #9216
Thousand Mile Canyon Trail #9216
1.1 mi away
1.4 mi
952 ft
Sacramento Lake Canyon
1.2 mi away
1.5 mi
405 ft
[ View More! ]
Double the Fun!
by imike

Looking down from the Overlook Logging Road, it appears there are substantial canyon forks converging below, giving two substantial drainages wrapping around the entire Overlook Ridge area. It looks promising to hike down the South Fork... hit the main canyon bottom for the descent to the Sacramento Basin... then, on the way back up, follow the North Fork around and up, effectively hiking the entire surrounding canyon sections.

In fact, the southern drainage is really quite small; most of what appears to be the Overlook Canyon is really Thousand Mile Canyon. Still, it is a steeply fun descent from the southern end of the Overlook Loop, down into the bottom of Thousand Mile Canyon. After a brief hike down along that overly used ATV track, the "real" descent of the Overlook drainage begins.


When you reach the broad Aspen filled meadow in Thousand Mile Canyon, move to your right, turning up, through and away from the meadow and official trail. You will cross a short saddle soon after, and finally find yourself dropping downhill, into the South fork of Overlook Canyon. In short order you will intersect with the North fork, turning left, following the main canyon down.

The canyon bottom is very narrow with steep side walls... yet the bottom remains pleasantly clear. I'm guessing that the logging company bull dozed this gully out some 60-80 years ago... and while it has regained the appearance of a natural cut, that earlier effort has left the passage much clearer than it would have been. It remains clear all the way down to the Sacramento Basin.

Turn around when you reach the Sunspot Hiway (unless you intend to loop back up on Thousand Mile Canyon or Corral Canyon trails) and follow the cut back up to the North fork. Reaching that point, you have a decision: follow your entry path back up the South fork... or proceed to complete the lasso loop up the North fork.

Unlike the lower section, there is no sign of clearing or bull dozing. The way holds many deadfalls and the gully cut is ever steeper. This is not an easy route to follow. There are no nice Elk trails to angle up. If you do choose to work your way up this way off trail route, you can soften the blow towards the top. Sticking to the right hand drainages, eventually you will note an emerging ridgeline on your right. If you have been crisscrossing the drainage (like I did!), now is the time to move up and to your right, away from the gully and angling up to the obvious ridge. Once you break out of the trees you will find yourself in an overcut, burned out deadfall field, directly below the Overlook logging road... but still with a few hundred feet of steep climbing to do. You may angle back towards the gully and treeline, switch backing ever left to take advantage of the contours of the terrain. You will soon find yourself topping out on the logging road, very close to it's intersection with Forest Road 64.

Fortunately, there are a number of nice stumps to enjoy brief rest breaks atop of as you complete this demanding ascent.

I would not suggest reversing the route on this hike. You could simply walk over the edge and down into the North fork drainage from the beginning of the Overlook Loop... but the problem would come from not knowing where to break away from Thousand Mile Canyon trail to make your way back up to the Overlook on the far end. Also, that first section is just a steep joy to descend... at least do the loop in the clockwise fashion the first time out.

This is a tough, demanding hike. Offtrail... steep and at high elevation. Be Aware!

To begin the hike, simply drop down and away from Forest Road 64 in the obvious drainage cut at the south end of the Overlook Ridge Hike where it connects back to FR 64...

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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Cloudcroft, take hiway 130, 1.8 miles out to the Sunspot Hiway, turning right. follow the Sunspot Scenic Hiway past milepost 13, turning left on to Forest Road 64... follow this gravel road 3.4 miles to the south end of the Overlook Ridge hike, or park at the beginning of that hike at mile 3.2.
    page created by imike on Oct 18 2012 9:18 am
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