register help

Dog Canyon Trail #106, NM

536 3 0
Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
4 of 5 by 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,417 feet
Elevation Gain 3,127 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,400 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.93
Interest Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2017-09-03 nobert15
12  2013-04-06 Jim_H
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 → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
The Best of the Official Trails!
by imike

If there is an outstanding trail to be found among the official Forest Service routes, Trail 106 is it. Starting at the Historic Oliver Lee State Park, the route climbs steeply out of the canyon bottom to the side south side bench, winding along level for a mile, then climbing repeatedly to ever higher bench levels until it reaches the old line cabin around mile post 3. Each quarter mile is marked. Most hikers only go up to the cabin ruins. From here the trail crosses over to the North side of the canyon and begins the very steep ascent towards Joplin Ridge. The trail traverses below the prominent cliffs called the Eyebrow, then around and to the top of that formation. From that point there remains close to a mile of easier hiking, across a broad meadow, then up and to the old logging road, 60B.

Trail 106 ends at this point. If you want to access the trail from the upper end, take West Side Road out of High Rolls for 18 miles to the junction of Forest Road 90B... turn right and follow that rough track for just under 3 miles to the marked trailhead.

If you are not hiking the full trail, Instead of stopping at the cabin ruins, add a bit more to your day and ascend the trail to the exceptional overview just a bit further up the trail. There is a great dry rock waterfall area that provides some protection from the wind and a natural sitting area. The little bit of extra climbing is worth the effort; the views are exceptional!


There is a day use fee for parking down in the New Mexico State Park. Check out the interesting displays, including a picture of the old line shack before it fell into ruins. The camp grounds provide electricity and hot showers!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2012-12-22 imike

    Lincoln FS Details
    The National Recreation Dog Canyon Trail is 5.5 miles long. It begins at Oliver Lee State Park and ends at Forest Road 90B. This beautiful trail traverses up from the desert to elevations over 2000' above its starting point and is a trail for the experienced hiker. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, Horseback Riding.

    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 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My fifth time up Bishop's Cap... but today was out first group hike. I limited the attendance to Eleven... and that was likely too many to keep together up this very difficult, hyper steep Spur Canyon. Four hikers turned back at the mouth of the canyon; the group size from there on up was about right.

    My exploratory outing back earlier this year included a heavy pack (over 50#) and a bike ride out to the park. Today was much nicer. Approach to the canyon was 1.5 hours... that day 2 hours. Scrambling with a lighter pack: much easier! Interestingly, the small wall further up where I left an assist rope hanging proved about as difficult... the rope was needed. Jason did spot a second ascent with good footing... but a bit too exposed for most folks to enjoy.

    Everyone agreed that this hike has the most scrambling of any of our southern NM hikes... up or down... no level areas! Just pure fun! Down and out around 2:30pm with a 7:30am start and easier pace. Slower would have been better... lots to appreciate up this demanding canyon. The one monster dryfall in the lower section still goes unclimbed. 170' fall lacks appeal. We may go in and set safeties to allow a day of near vertical scrambling in our 2018 Adventure Series? Not sure there is any interest...

    Overall... great day out!
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was our second attempt to top out the Dog Gap. First hike turned back half way up... 12' cliff. Today, we came prepared. Rope, overnight bivy supply, and sort of a plan. Initial surprise came after we topped the minor cliff obstacle... I was expecting something of a walkup past that ledge; instead, more and more demanding scrambles. Yet, it did allow us to top out!

    From there we headed over to check out a potential down... Dog Cleft. Not good. Second option: Deadman North or Middle... alas, both came with too much risk of cliffing out. I did not really want to have to bivy over, so the next option was to head up and around the ridge to Jody... a south side spur that would allow us to drop into upper Dog... from where we could attempt to climb out onto Joplin Ridge... and back to Dog Canyon trail.

    We got really lucky. Horse/Deer trail wound us down and around nicely into our desired canyon. Jody was a joy to descend with a couple of fun mini-drops. Unfortunately, Jody intersects upper Dog too far West. We had never climbed out from that low in the canyon. We were hoping to ascend just right to stay away from the 1,000' cliffs of the Eyebrow, skirting that formation to traverse around to the trail without ascending all the way up Joplin Ridge. Sort of worked out that way. We did a forced climb up through the upper layer of cliffs in Dog... and looped over to the top of the Eyebrow... but it did not give way nicely. It forced us ever up and around... but finally down. We made the trail around 6:30pm!

    We hiked the trail down to the old line cabin... setup headlamps... and slowly hiked out. 8:45pm exit... bit over a 14 hour hard effort. Group was a bit wasted. I felt good, but had an odd bout of leg cramps around 5pm... not nice. Wished I'd thrown the Pickle Juice in the pack... but at least had it waiting in the car.

    The highlights of the exceptional Dog Gap have been somewhat lost in the effort to get down and out. The pictures do not capture the day. I used my phone only for pics... and too often my hands were too busy with the scrambles to capture shots. The hike illuminated a variety of potential future exploratories... which may end up being done solo. The difficulty of this day just might serve to delimit future hikes getting anyone to sign on...!?

    It was a great route... and fun day!
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hikers were no shows for today's outing... and that may have been a good thing! I took off with an extra battery for assisted pedaling of my 100# bike, but realized I'd forgotten to grab the key to allow battery access! So, I had to pedal to the park with little to no assistance. That made my arrival just on time, and with a bit too much effort. I did a short loop hike... and headed home. I was nearly back to Mary's house, again pedaling with low assist, when I realized I did have a charger... I could recharge the mounted battery at her house! Wish I'd thought of that earlier. Oh, well. Sat around for an hour to get a few bars back, then made my way home. All good.

    Low energy day yesterday. Not great energy today. Guess I'll rest up for Monday's harder hike!?

    Note... official Riparian Trail washed away! I did not care for that loop, but odd to see it gone.
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ongoing exploratory of the various Dog Canyon Spur cuts. Today, N1... Dog Stairs... and S3...Dog Steppes. Both proved to be exceptional and I'll need to detail them with their own descriptions. Today, with Teresa along for her first trip up the canyon bottom, we celebrated the Riparian area, nicely greening out. Then, hiked up to Kong to let her enjoy that odd feature. Then, back down canyon to the north side cut at the lower caves (top of the Riparian area) and climbed steeply up to the base of the blocking cliffs.

    Back down, and across the canyon below the man made dam... up into the bedrock Steppes... with a steep climb up to the Dog Canyon Trail.

    Group opted for canyon descent... dropped into Lawson Steppes to close out the day.

    All in all... great early loop before the heat of the day settled in...
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Feels odd to be hiking only one day weekly... but even that is proving to be to much if I go out for too long or too hard. And, with just the single hike I fall further out of shape, so too hard comes at a lower level. I'm beat up from yesterday's seven hour effort. Should not have even felt this one!

    Nice Exploratory route up to the Cave in the north cliff walls of Dog Canyon... traversed the base of the cliffs over to Bishop Cap Cut for a semi-shady descent. Ross and Lewis enjoy the outing. Forgot camera so picture set is all smart phone! I need to download the pics to the computer... for now, posted over on Facebook.

    Guess I'll adjust the Sunday hikes to shorter efforts until I can get back into a fuller hiking schedule: 2018!!?
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ross, Will and William along with me to retrieve over sized fossil rock... worth the over the top effort because it appears to be a 350,000,000 year old rock among our 60 million year old layers.

    We tagged on some nice upper canyon scrambling in Bishops Cap Cut (fossil down in lower section)... then began the awkward down canyon scramble with the 70#+ rock... after that, steep side hill scramble. Blew out pack shoulder strap buckle on the way up! Eventually, made it to trail... and after a bit over a mile, blew out the other strap buckle...? Rock may be heavier than I thought!?

    Made it back to truck... home... and collapsed! I am way too far out of shape. Oh, well.

    Now... need to get some geologists involved...
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Bishops Cap Cut

    Lots of Questions going into this day... Would the Cut allow access up and out the top? How would the Radwagon do on the longer ride out/back to the Trailhead? How would I do packing 40# pack on such a difficult route? Was I in shape for a longer hours day?

    5:30am... packed and ready to go: 80# Bike... 50# Payload... rode off in the dark. Stopped at Mary's house to drop off extra bike battery for pick up on return ride. Oliver Lee Park. Suited up and off... moving purposefully slow to conserve energy. 2.5 gallons of fluids. Fruit and salads (?), Bivy gear...Emergency gear.

    1.5 Miles...Stashed Qt of Poweraid for end of day...

    2 Miles... diverted off trail to find drop in to Canyon. Got Lucky and found goat trails switchbacking down into the Giant Boulder section above the Narrows. I got to play and stretch out on those big rock drops for awhile.

    9am...Mouth of Bishops Cap Cut. I stopped long enough to break fast: Chocolate Milk! Not sure what I was thinking when prepping for this hike. This was clearly a high calorie burn day... Peanut Butter/Banana/Honey kind of day. I brought Salads!?? I also had 1/2 gallon of milk and a gallon of OJ. I start with the milk.

    The lower section of the canyon was open bouldering... but graduating into steep. I was projecting I'd get stopped/blocked or top out by 1pm. Top out and I could traverse Joplin Ridge around to the Dog Canyon Trail. Blocked... perhaps explore the bottom of the upper cliff edges around to the trail. Either way... I had four hours of climbing?

    The first Surprise... upon reaching the lower obstruction dryfall, I discovered it was not the 30' fall we could see from the south side of Dog... but twisted around a sharp corner: 100'+ off steep cascading, interestingly accented Fall. Dramatic! I envisioned setting ropes and having a most interesting group event.

    Today, I looped around and up an iffy dirt/rock side bank. This section and lead up to it have been steep enough to keep me breathing hard...and this was the easy parts...?

    Tiny reward: great Horn Coral Fossils along the bypass on the west side!

    Beyond this Fall, the climbing began in earnest. Staircase falls... House size boulders... Bus size boulders. Climb after climb. So often we hike interesting cuts with great scrambles. Our typical laments are we reach the top and wish there was more of the good stuff. This canyon is the solution to that issue... it just does not stop climbing. You climb to reach the next climb! They do not stop!

    Next nice bit: soil layer filled with Gypsum! Plates of glass like pieces... I gathered some, protected them in the now empty milk jug.

    Ate a couple oranges.... set the OJ out in the sun to thaw. Drank my second Monster drink of the day. Warm to hot in the sun... cool breeze in the shade.

    Noon...I've been active 6.5 hours...hiking now for 5 hours. I am about to clear the lower cliffs... entering the upper canyon. I take a longer break, eating my first salad. I think about the hours ahead... wondering if this was the hike to ride my bike out and back...? After a 30 minute break I move up to what I think is the blockage noted from the bottom. I spend 20 minutes attempting various routes to scale a simple 12' wall. The grips are just not there for me today. Thinking that if I can get around this problem, the canyon will let me go to the top, I decide to take a questionable approach. I take out my rope, tie it to the pack, and using the pack as a "Sea Anchor", I throw it up and over the lip of the rock.

    If I pull acutely down on the rope, it holds. There are no other hikers here to tell me how dumb this might be. So, up I go. As I get near the top, my pull on the rope is no longer angled enough... the pack starts slipping back towards the edge... I let go of the rope and move on to the rock... interesting moment! :scared:

    Now... legs shaky... lots of wasted energy.... but I am up!

    The canyon gets ever steeper... the climbs get bigger! Can You Say Climb!This day is shaping up to be twice the effort of anything I've done in years.

    2:30pm... Blocked!! 9 hours into my activity day... 7.5 hours into the hike. Exploring is over. I tagged on a mini-reward... Cave. Of course, it took more climbing!

    Those bigger climbs up turned to bigger downclimbs... often forcing me to remove the pack. I did get to enjoy a fully tied on rope to descend the Sea Anchor spot.

    4:15pm... As I approached the top of the huge Dry Fall, it occurred to me I could check out a cut a bit further West... doing a Naughty No_No of canyon hiking: do not drop down what you have not come up. In this case, I felt okay about switching back into Exploratory mode... it was a short canyon with side hills that would allow escape if necessary. It was good!

    4:45pm... down! Now... move around the Narrows... cross the canyon and climb out the West side... get to the trail!

    5:15pm... Dog Canyon Trail at Cookie Rock (Mile 1.5)... and over to the Rock Bench... I drink the last of the OJ... and retrieve the Qt of Powerade for the hike down the trail.

    These last hours have enjoyed some Saving Grace breezes... and the cooler low sun angle, setting just as I reach the Visitor Center. Unlock my bike... head out for the ride home!

    My only change in plans: at Mary's I decide to lay over and put her spa to use! Wow... that was a lifesaver. Soaked for an hour... it likely saved me from massive leg cramps.

    So... a day sort of like my old days. 11 hours of hiking... 2.5 hours of biking. The hiking was upper level effort. Hard. Makes me nearly feel like the old me. As I move through my 68th year days like this likely to be few and far between... but on this day... really nice!
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well... Interesting day!

    43 Hikers showed up to enjoy a variety of routes in the Dog Canyon area. Initial posting was for an Intro to Canyoneering hike... short outing up Lawson Steppes. We had never offered that canyon for any of our group hikes... that might explain the big number of signups... or the 10am late start... or the much easier hike? Not sure, but most of the hikers signing up did not need an intro to canyoneering; they were well versed!

    I had already decided to add in a second hit... an afternoon hike to make it worth the trip out to Dog. Now, with the large registration (50 hikers!?) we decided to split the morning group. Mary opted to lead the more experienced hikers up Lawson Spring North... I'd go as planned up the Steppes, ideally with the group needing an intro. It worked out great!

    I had 16 hikers. Mary 24. We topped out about the same time...and joined up for the easy trail descent. Most of my group might have had a problem with a more difficult route; Some really needed the easier introduction.

    Half the hikers headed home after our lunch break... the rest, plus a few new hikers, headed up through the Riparian area in Dog Canyon. For the hikers never there before it was a revelation... a true hidden gem. A number of the hikers turned back at Kong... some a bit later. For the balance of the group... a nice challenge up Devil Dog... and a difficult exit effort up Kong's Krack.

    The hike ended with a descent along the Dog Canyon trail... and a surprisingly early finish.

    I rode my bike ten miles out/back to round out the day. Good outing!
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Lawson Spring North Fork
    wow... I'd forgotten how exceptional Lawson Springs drainage was... providing a bit of everything. Water, Big dryfalls, lots of bedrock...challenging scrambles. So nice that we'll be offering it as an alternative route to this Saturdays group hike... splitting the too large group for the morning hike. Mary will lead the Springs group.

    After enjoying the Springs, we ambled up and around... then down into Dog Canyon bottom. We did a bit of exploring and plotting for future hikes, then enjoyed the greening Riparian area.

    We checked out the potential for a more dramatic exit for Devil Dog second group hike this Saturday... proved too dangerous so did not set any ropes... We'll exit up and out Kongs Krack.

    Great bit of hiking!
    Dog Canyon Trail #106
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Checking out yet another spur canyon on the south side...and enjoyed some great scrambling...and a couple great climbs!

    Moved on to a rock hounding hike up above...sort of looking for Mary s missing horn coral.

    Knocked off a third leg exploring the south side cave down by the lower trail.

    Mary and Ross exited Lawson Steppes.

    Too warm out!!!

    Luster and Clinton scored the best rock.

    Permit $$
    information is in description

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Alamogordo, take state road 54 8.8 miles to the signed turnoff for Oliver Lee State Park. Turn left... follow the road to it's end, four miles... pay the self service fee to park inside the park or park outside the gate on the BLM land. The trail begins immediately behind the Visitor Center.
    page created by joebartels on Dec 22 2012 4:35 pm
    128 GB Flash Drive... $14
    help comment issue

    end of page marker