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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
A Rocky Road!
Alamo Canyon offers a variety of hiking options, providing a route from the city all the way to the top of the mountain range. The official trail (t104) has the interesting distinction of being a non-trail... basically following the canyon bottom until it reaches the site of the old mine around four miles up canyon.
At the mine, the nature of the canyon changes... the sides draw in and some dramatic rock features narrow in on the trail... and at that very point the trail shifts out of the canyon. Angling up the north side, it works its way over to the old cabin site at the intersection with the Alamogordo City Water Maintenance road: the Aquaduct Ridge Route. The official trail follows that road on up the canyon to West Side Road, crossing the canyon bottom only once along the way.
Oddly enough, just where they chose to depart the canyon bottom is where hiking along the bottom just got interesting.
There is water... a running stream! This is a rare feature in the Sacramento Mountains. An easy walk along the drainage from the mouth of Good Canyon up to where the road crosses the canyon is constant stream flow with small waterfall features.
Once across the roadway, and staying in the canyon, you enter a rock bound gully that will provide you with constant play as you work your way up and over the many 12-20' falls. There will be a few taller ones, and a few you may elect to bushwhack around. For the most part, you'll be doing some nice full body stretching as you climb the variety of rocks.
My first impression was that I was climbing and walking within a deposit of lava... but more likely it is a broken open exposure of a section of underground cave... limestone formations with the look and feel of calcium deposits. The areas are narrow... often even tight, all the way up to the final formation that tops you out into the gully that cuts along the north side of the huge meadow below West Side Road. At that point you are back to the road and T104.
For a great off trail loop, consider approaching from Caballero Canyon, up and over Stark Peak... and off trail down the south side into the meadow gully.
This upper finish to Alamo Canyon is worth checking out. You have the emergency relief of knowing the "real" trail is never far away... combined with the pleasure of the gurgling brook section.
It is worth rounding out your Alamo Canyon experience with this great off trail section!
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