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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.

Purgatory 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
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2.61 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,395 feet
Elevation Gain 1,865 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,955 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.13
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Winter to Early Winter
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
0 Alternative
A Better Purgatory!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
The Drainage below Long Ridge on the South, Alamo Canyon on the North, Good Canyon on the East... and RoundUp Canyon on the West: that would be the Purgatory Canyon area. Since the Purgatory Canyon proper is both overgrown and cliffed out, there are limited routes allowing nice access.

Purgatory Ridge on the north side of the canyon is the nicest of those routes.

The Ridge forms the south side of Alamo Canyon and the north side of Purgatory Canyon, alternately offering exceptional views and overviews of both canyons.

From the mouth of Purgatory Canyon, you climb to the left, steeply rising to the low crest of the canyon wall. Once on the hill you have the option of going further left, to the crown of the hill, or to stay lower on the Purgatory Canyon side of the hill. I think that is the nicer route. Either way, you will find yourself eventually on the softer slopes above... and looking up to see that the ridge cliffs out.

Fortunately, you can angle to the right, catching a great game trail winding up and around under the cliffs on the Purgatory Canyon side of the Ridge.

Pick up a nice bloom stalk for a hiking staff for the next section of the hike; you'll be glad you have it for stability.

This trail will carry you around and up to the top of the lower cliffs. You will note that the Ridge at this point is separated from the main Purgatory Canyon cut... two side canyons lie between you and the primary canyon.

Above the rock cliffs, angle up and over the Ridge crest and take in the view down into and across Alamo Canyon... then, start climbing again, angling across and over to the main canyon. If you catch the right game trails you will intersect Purgatory Canyon at Lunch Rock... a prominence of rock that is part of the canyon cliffs that form the north side of Upper Purgatory Canyon. Enjoy a nice lunch break, and the interesting cacti growing from the rock walls... then move up and around the left side of the rock... to the overview of the terminus of the upper canyon: A sheer rock wall Waterfall formation cuts off Upper Purgatory Canyon.

Above the falls, the canyon splits into a north and south fork. You have the option at this point to follow the cliff top down to the falls formation... or, climb back up onto the crest of the Ridge and follow that route up and over to the saddle of the north fork drainage. At that point you have less than 300’ of climbing remaining to top out Purgatory Ridge.

Purgatory Peak lies between the north and south fork saddles. It is effectively the high point and the terminus of Purgatory Ridge. If you climb higher from this point you will be ascending the north side of Long Ridge... and no longer be having any fun.

The views from Purgatory Peak are exceptional.

You have a number of return options to get home: the way you came up, around and down to connect with Purgatory Cliffs, down into Good Canyon to connect with Alamo Canyon Trail... or, Purgatory Canyon itself.

This is one nice hike... all off trail but lots of it walks easier than off trail implies.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2013-04-27 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 Triplog Review
    Purgatory Ridge
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Terri’s Friday group put off the Garden Wall hike until next week… so, I decided on a long delayed exploratory: Purgatory Ridge. Since Purgatory Canyon cliffs out from below, the ridge was a shot at seeing what the upper portion of the canyon held.

    No real energy, so slow slog up Alamo Canyon, 2.8 miles to the mouth of Purgatory Canyon, and the climb up and onto the Ridge. There the hike began for real.

    I chose to angle up below the crest of the ridge, following deer trails that overlooked Purgatory. Eventually, I angled over the crest to take in the views into and across Alamo Canyon… very nice! After an easy crest walk the ridge cliffed out… I opted to scoot around and below on the right and scored a great Elk Trail… that carried me up past the rocks, and once above, again I crossed over to check out the Alamo Canyon area. The Ridge was giving me views I’d never had across so much area that I spend time hiking across. It promised to continue to give more and more as I climbed higher and higher.

    I continually opted to follow game tracks off the top of the Ridge crest on the Purgatory Canyon side… it paid off with sneak peaks down into the canyon, but never any clear views. I did note an obvious detail: across and above the canyon, the rock cliffs that formed the barrier to scaling the south side of Lower Purgatory Canyon made for a consistent incline ledge that, like the Garden Wall hike, formed a natural hiking route. You could access the Cliffs down at the mouth of the canyon and walk their upper edge up and around nearly all the way up to the terminal waterfall formation that capped out Upper Purgatory Canyon. It would not be a too hard hike. Nice.

    Up… and up some more, very slowly.

    Finally, I wrapped around and found myself on the cliffs on the north side of the canyon… walking the edges towards a dramatic waterfall formation… 80+ feet of sheer wall closing off the uppercanyon.

    I made for the top of Purgatory Ridge to the north… and climbed up to the north fork saddle. From there, up to Purgatory Peak and the high point of the Ridge. The views were impressive, and I spotted an alternative return route: Good Canyon to the east looked to intersect back with Alamo Canyon… probably near the old cabin site above the mine? If it would connect, it would mean returning sort of on trail.

    It looked clear… it was. It dropped me right to the cabin!

    There was a small problem… I’d planned on a 4-6 hour hike. I’d brought along fluid and calories for that effort. But, here I was nearing the six hour point and had yet to turn for home. I’d noticed that my feet could begin to cramp if stressed to a particular position. Not a great sign.

    At seven hours I was on the way home, but moving slow. The slower pace did have a bright spot: I paid more attention to the route of the old roadbed from the mine down the canyon… and took more pictures documenting the remains of the old water line. I also paid closer attention to the engine block below the mine. Over the years it appears then reappears as the depth of the river bed rises and falls. Today, I checked it out. It was a straight six, Oldsmobile engine. I have no idea from what year.

    Also found some interesting bottles from 50+ years ago… with very specific text… I snapped pictures; they’ll be posted.

    Legs began to cramp after the seventh hour… not steady, but did not portend well. The pace slowed, but I was now plodding along over paths I’d covered many, many times before… getting home was a sure thing. I just wish I’d thrown in that second half gallon of OJ… it would have made the extra hours about right. The half gallon of OJ and two no cal energy drinks that I did have was just not enough. This would have been a great hike to have 1.5 gallons of fluid… and the potassium from the full gallon of Orange Juice.

    As I opened the door to the truck at the trailhead, I noted that the hike logged a bit over 12 miles… 3700’ of up/down… and 8.5 hours of total clock time. GPS showed 1.5 hours of down time; I’m not sure that is right.

    I drank the half gallon of OJ within the next 30 minutes… hands and legs still cramping here two hours later, legs really twisting me up! My fault. It was a fasting day. If the hike is longer than four hours I add in 200-300 calories per hour of OJ to try to diminish the impact, and get that potassium that will keep me from cramping. Today, not enough of anything, except effort.

    Thinking back to the highpoint of the hike: it was a great day. Purgatory Peak is a must do. Purgatory Cliffs may be another great mid level effort route to add to the lists. Purgatory Canyon remains as before: why go there!

    I think I’ll check Good Canyon off my list this coming Sunday!

    Wow, this is fun stuff! Solo wandering up and around, out and about…

    Note: first snake sightings of the year!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    The Ridge hike takes off from Alamo Canyon Trail, t104. From the Alamo Canyon trailhead in Alamogordo, follow the route up and around past the upper Roundup Grounds Trailhead, to the pool size rock that marks the entrance to Purgatory Canyon... 2.7 miles into the hike. Move up and on to the Ridge to your left.
    page created by imike on Apr 27 2013 10:31 am
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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