register help

Hells Hole Canyon, NM

no permit
12 0 0
Guide 0 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
0 of 5 by 0
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,848 feet
Elevation Gain 1,360 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,400 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.17
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
0 Alternative
Not As Hot as It Might Have Been!
by imike

Around on the back side of Hershberger Peak (East) the deep cut so defined by the very distinctive Devil's Backbone ridge of rock cliffs, suggests potentials for a canyon full of protruding limestone falls and bedrock walkways. Instead what you get is a lazy, gravel bottomed walk, mostly surrounded by towering beds of sand and gravel sedimentary deposits, looking to cave in at any moment. There are adjoining benches of grass filled meadow areas; this is a canyon so accessible that the deer and elk prints range up to the top of the cut.

The map labels the branch immediately adjacent to the Devil's Backbone ridge as the specific "Hells Hole"... probably because of some of the adjacent mining activity from the abandoned Warnock Mine? Old piling debris has been pushed over the upper edge near the top of the canyon cut... and that area is the easiest access up and out of the canyon. The Forest Service's Hell Hole Trail passes along the canyon edge at that point. Following Hell Hole Trail a short distance up will put you at the official eastern trailhead for the "A" trail... and a potential loop back down and around into Alamogordo.

Down in the canyon there are some redeeming features, in particular a sculptured section of waterfall that for most hiking days would make for a nice turnaround point. Enjoy a picnic at that falls then head back down and out. If you do proceed past that point, keep an eye out for more of that sculptured rock forming a wall on your right... that pour over is the waterfall that is fed by the Hell Hole section. Climb up and enter the narrower cut and decide how to best proceed from that point. If your goal is to go up and out, I'd suggest exiting the bottom, moving steeply up towards the Backbone... once high enough to orient, angle towards the northern end of that ridge formation where the climb to the top will be much easier.

Once up a ways you well see that there are additional upper forks to explore directly adjacent to Hershberger Peak, with a possible peak assault possible? For another day.

AS a canyon hike, up and back out, this is one of the easier outings. You do have the approach up Alamo Canyon, then up Caballero Canyon... and briefly into the Caballero Canyon North cut before this canyon truly starts. It will add up to lots of off trail miles.

Note: The start to this hike is into the drainage on your left as you follow T103 down off of the hill adjacent to the riparian section of the Caballero Canyon trail. You will pass under a water pipe trestle shortly after entering the North Fork drainage. Turn left at the first split beyond that point... you will know you are in the right canyon if there is interesting sculptured rock on your right and a towering sand/gravel cliff on your left.

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

2012-11-19 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 Review
    Hells Hole Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    A planned exploratory up to the top of the Steamboat formation got re-routed because of rain... we hiked up Alamo Canyon but instead of heading up Deadman for the planned hike, we stayed in the easier route, hoping for a change in the weather. Heading up Caballero the drizzle persisted, so detoured into Caballero North, then made an exploratory left turn up into Hell Hole Canyon. I've intended to check this one out for years. Today would be the day.

    Expectations were high. Overshadowed by the dramatic ridge of Devils Backbone I had visions of bedrock cliffs and falls. What we got instead: easy walking gravel. At the entry there was some nice strata, but for the most part the sidewalls were 30-50' tall sedimentary deposits... precarious piles of impending dirt and gravel. Finally, we scored a great section of sculptured, multi-tiered falls... a section good enough to make the canyon worth the effort.

    Choosing the split closest to towards the backbone, we exited the bottom of the canyon and worked our way up a steep side ridge, to the base of the backbone formation... then began the tedious process of finding a slot that would let us ascend. Close, but no exit... the wet/muddy rock was a bit too challenging. I'd spotted an access point at the far end of the backbone from down lower, so we made our way across and up, ascending the old tailings pile from the abandoned copper mine. That put us on to Hell Hole Trail, and into deep mud! Soon we were on to "A" trail and out of the mud... and to a touch of sunlight for our meal of the day. Down "A"... checking out a portion of the new Ortega Peak trail... then, the long trudge through town back to our cars... even diverted to city streets; Yubao's boots had killed the bottom of his feet; pavement felt better than dirt!?

    So, not the exploratory Hike I had planned... but very nice day on the trail. I need to go back when it is dry and check out the other forks, maybe find a route up to Hershberger Peak?

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From the main drag through Alamogordo, take any major road east over to Scenic drive... follow Scenic to it's far southern end, then moving around the left side of the city water tank, on to Alamo Canyon Rd, follow that paved road to it's far eastern end. Park adjacent to the City Water Works fenced area. Hike T104 to T103... and on over to the Caballero Canyon North turnoff.
    page created by imike on Nov 19 2012 1:26 pm
    help comment issue

    end of page marker