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Roundup Cliffs, NM

no permit
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Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,400 feet
Elevation Gain 25 feet
Accumulated Gain 125 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.32
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Waterfall
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   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Hidden...But So Very Nice!
by imike

The problem with hiking up or down the lower section of Alamo Canyon is that for the most part you are walking the canyon bottom through a mix of sand and loose river rock. It can become a drag. It is an official trail, yet there is no trail. The only apparent alternative is to loop up over and down the Roundup Grounds Trail, but that adds over 1,000' of extra climbing and descending, some of that very rough and steep.

There is a hidden alternative.

Wrapping around the Roundup Grounds Plateau is a trail. It traverses the entire length of the Plateau base adjacent to Alamo Canyon, from Deadman's Canyon to Roundup Canyon. Effectively, it walks the cliff top bench around the 5300'/5400' elevation level... far below the upper edge cliffs of the Roundup Grounds, and over 100' above the bottom of Alamo Canyon.

The better intersection to this trail is on the far back side of the Plateau, off of the Roundup Grounds Trail (T107). As that trail climbs out of the Alamo Canyon bottom, it ascends up through a steep gully, eventually exiting at some large rock cairns where the trail wraps around to the south into Roundup Canyon. At that gully top intersection, instead of heading south, move to the north on the obvious heavy use game trail.

A trail this developed usually means a firm destination: water... feed... bottom or top of a formation. In this case it is the path around and down to the mouth of Alamo Canyon. This is a clear trail, often in better shape and much easier to traverse than the formal Forest Service routes below and above it. It is a delight to hike these cliff tops, overlooking the Canyon bottom and taking in the nice cross canyon views.

The trail grows narrower and ever fainter as it loops the base of the Plateau. It remains easy to follow. Eventually, emerging on the far west side, the trail diffuses out over the broad bench area joining with Deadman's Canyon to the south. At this point there is no trail. Walking down and over towards Deadman's Canyon will connect you with the formal Roundup Grounds Trail, which interestingly, uses the same bench formation for it's initial traverse around the west side. Turn to the right to head to the T104 Trailhead at the mouth of Alamo Canyon.

This lack of direct connection to the trail makes it advisable to hike this route from above for the first few trips, becoming familiar with the lower connections, although really all you have to do is walk around and above Alamo Canyon... you would eventually connect.

What is particularly nice about this trail: it offers miles of near level hiking adjacent to great canyon formations. After the initial ascent from either end, you are ambling nearly level... and on a trail! That is rare for Alamogordo hikes.

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2013-04-28 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 of 23 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Easy looping... along the new Alamo T104 Pipeline route... up Arch Canyon... along the Roundup Cliffs Trail... down T107... around and down Alamo Canyon... and, we checked out the potential to extend T104 Pipeline from the Gap up to the Picnics Traverse... Nice loop on stone bruised foot..
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Cub Scouts out (18) with some parents along... first hike! They may repeat monthly... or not! Will be interesting to see who shows up for the next outing. We'll make them a bit longer and harder each month? They did well. Nice to see them include this activity... have to wonder where the Boy Scout groups are???
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Easier outing save for the fact of strapping on the 40# weight vest... intent was just to wear it with the pack for the 1.5 mile walk to the trailhead... but, I kept it on for the entire hike! I got worked! Mary and Will along... great weather, even though it was supposed to be raining!
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Last minute posting yielded an exceptional loop! Ross suggested we add in Arch canyon as our access to the Roundup Cliffs... so that got the morning off to a great start. Even with the full frame larger backpack the climbs were all good. Even before we reached the far side of the Roundup Grounds we'd already decided to tag in Picnics for a bit more of a day.

    Mary has only been up into this area once, to see the exceptional P3 lower Dryfall... so we opted to turn up into P1...P2. Instead of the walkup to the top of the Dark Cliffs we opted to go vertical. Mary nailed both climbs! While these are Class 3 and should have safety, with just the three of us it seemed an acceptable risk to take our time... make no mistakes... and enjoy the time savings. Interesting/odd issue to rationalize around those 30 ft falls... simply by thinking we just will not fall!? I would not take a group up those same climbs...? Should we be doing those?

    Once above the Dark Cliffs Mary got to see all three lower falls from the top down! Also, great views up to the mid falls. We hiked her up to the huge overhang in P3... great turn around point for the day... then followed the top of the Dark Cliffs around and back into Alamo Canyon, descending Blind Canyon to confirm it was not our best exit. Alamo Gap looks to be our exit of choice from this point on. We will eventually develop a nice cliff top trail around to that cut... then improve the Pipeline trail on out of Alamo Canyon to eliminate the rougher canyon bottom walking.

    So... T104...Pipeline...T104...Arch Canyon... Roundup Cliffs...T107... T104... Picnics...P1/2...Dark Clifss....P3...Dark Cliffs... Blind Canyon...T104...Pipeline...T104... all together, one great loop. Out for Six hours... caught great cloudcover!

    I'll post the pics in a few days!
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This years Canyon Light Series has pretty much drained all the attention away from our regular canyon series; a good thing! Whereas 32 hikers showed up for the easier outing, we only had three other hikers for the longer, harder Picnic Canyon hike, the second in this Falls long canyons outings.

    Ross, Yvonne, and Bojan enjoyed an interestingly looping route: up Alamo to Arch Canyon... up Arch to the Roundup Cliffs trail... along that single track to just past the group photo rock... down the new traverse back into Alamo Canyon... and around into the Picnics.

    We first headed up lower P3 to enjoy the towering dryfall... then back out and up P1/P2 for those lower dryfalls, climbing P1 up to the Dark Cliffs. From there, around to the top of the P3 falls, and on up into the upper P3 canyon. Ross gave a name to the very interesting overhang formation: Devil's Ledges. The group enjoyed the amazingly steep bedrock walkway to the top of the canyon, then reversed for a fast descent back to the top of the Dark Cliffs.

    At some point in the future we will likely develop a trail to enjoy along the top of the Dark Cliffs. Today we followed the route over and into Blind Canyon, descending once again into Alamo... and followed the bottom of the drainage out and around, finishing up by walking the Pipeline trail out of the canyon.

    The smaller group allowed a focus on the various moments of rock... and a faster pace. A really great day!
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    13 hikers showed up for this months Progressive Canyon Series... we mixed it up a bit. Ross looped most of the group around and up Arch Canyon; they really loved it! I lead the rest up and around to the Arch via Roundup Cliffs trail. From there, over and down Roundup Grounds trail and into Alamo Canyon... down and around, up into Picnic to lower P3 Falls. From there back over and up P1... and around to upper P3. Group descended along the top of the Dark Cliffs (future trail route?). They were all tired, happy and confused by the end... doubt if most could replicate the route, but it was a great fit into this ongoing Series.

    Adding in the link over to the video:

    ...and the photoset:
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    a variety of smaller exploratory routes to confirm access and ease of movement... ideally, a few new Beginner hikes will come from this. Arch Canyon was the primary focus... it was exceptional!

    So, local routes up to around 220... I'm six months behind in posting descriptions (x50+). The project work will occupy me through most of 2015... then, back to "real" hiking?

    It is nice to have every hike I do be new and interesting... but I do miss the training.
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    6 hikers out for our first Intermediate level loop... and the potentials for that difficulty hike look promising.

    Interesting note: folks visiting from up north contacted the local forest service office to find out about local hikes they could do while they visited this last week... were told that there were no good hikes to do this time of year in this area! So odd that the locals stay oblivious to the nearly 200 routes to be found down off the mountain! And... this is the best time of year to enjoy these.
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Exploratory to develop traverse/short cut down off of Roundup Cliffs to Dark Cliffs... giving access to Picnic Canyons, The Gap, Blind Cut... Busted Buttress and beyond. Got lucky, found what will likely be the cut... and decided to use Cave canyon for the west end access to the Dark Cliffs. This new routing provides some exceptional looping... now, just have to do the work!
    Roundup Cliffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    the Beginner's weekly hike went forward without me yesterday. The foot issue prevails (piece of scaffold fell on it last week)... so, not sure when real hiking will kick back in.

    Interesting year... blown out knee, jury duty, project work... the biggest hiking days were scored through pure hours, not higher levels of conditioning. I never hit the 12,000' day mark. That used to be the base level of conditioning! Will 2015 bring anything different? The Fall hiking has been distracted but pure fun... exploratory outings scoring new canyons and oddly enough, more new canyons. Ideally, that pattern will continue.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To hike
    This trail connects at both ends with the Forest Service trail 107... Roundup Grounds Trail. Effectively, you access the route at the 5300/5400' level. The practical parking is at the Alamo Canyon Trailhead (T104) in Alamogordo at the upper end of Alamo Canyon Road.
    page created by imike on Apr 28 2013 11:42 am
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