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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.

Dark Mesa and Dark Mesa Peak, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 5,642 feet
Elevation Gain 440 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 Hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.47
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
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Aug → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Water
Just Gotta Like Cliffs!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
The broad Basin on the east side of Alamogordo has three distinct drainages: to the North, all of the cuts pour down from Beeman Ridge. On the South, the canyons drain the lower reaches of Ortega Peak. In the middle, the Lost Trail canyons and ridges flow down and out.


The long ridge formation that divides the Beeman Ridge flows from the Lost Trail flows forms both Dark Mesa and Dark Mesa Peak.

This cliff topped feature is formed with the Dark Mesa at the lower elevations...with the Dark Mesa Peak standing out well above and further back up into the Basin.

Visible when hiking any of the areas south of the ridge, it juts out with an inviting sense of mystery. The dark cliffs suggest some hiking drama… and challenge? You just want to go up there and see what is happening.

Oddly enough, once there you realize that you’ve been there before...
...or at least very near there.

Mineral Springs Trail(#5579) accesses the ridge top, crossing a pass in the lower section that gives direct connection to the Dark Mesa itself. As that trail winds up and away from the roadbed, and around to the south side of the big hill, away from the Beeman Ridge drainage, all you have to do is turn right when you reach the narrowing cut before the Water Tank. You will soon be walking the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Lost Trail drainages. You will be on top of the Dark Mesa.

Continuing back onto the Mineral Springs Trail, up and past the Springs, you will climb steeply up and over to a second pass… and there, again turn right following a clear use trail up to Dark Mesa Peak.

Neither the Dark Mesa nor the Peak offer more than a few pleasant moments of hiking diversion. The true value in taking the time to enjoy the bit of exploration it takes to reach either may be the overviews they offer of the surrounding areas. From both areas you will have a clear perspective on the many area trails... most of them old Jeep tracks. Those routes and their positions relative to the canyons becomes clear... it makes it well worth the effort to get on top of these cliffs.

The section of the ridge that forms these features lies mostly between 5200' and 5700' elevation. Your real mileage and AEG will depend on what portion of the area you decide to explore.

And then, when you gaze up towards those dark cliffs in the future... you'll no longer wonder.

Note: Mineral Springs Trail loops away from the old jeep bed and winds around the west and south side of the big hill below the water tank and Springs... of late, most hikers are simply following the road bed all the way up, which moves around the north and east sides of the hill. If you approach using that route, simply turn right at the water tank, following the “real” trail down and around to the connecting point.

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

2013-05-24 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 Reviews
    Dark Mesa and Dark Mesa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I forget What a great hike this loop is! Every time I introduce new hikers to this route they affirm the quality and variety. The Springs, Indian Wells, meadows, rocks, vistas... and the not too hard, not too easy nature of the loop. This was a great Friday group hike. Of course, Terri's Friday hikers were all off on a different hike, but that was nice too. It would be great if the calendar could fill in with lots of choices for everyone.

    Finished after 11am for that first hit, started to do laps on the "A", but that was not inspiring. I moved over to the more difficult Cave Canyon and that did the trick. I quit a little short of the 5,000' goal but my focus is drifting ahead to April... I may fall a little short of the 150,000' goal this month as I get ready to try for the bigger month about to start.

    The game/cattle trail up the ridge on the west side of Cave Canyon could be improved into a great training route up to Alamo Point (high north side over the mouth of Alamo Canyon). That would also give us a good path up to the Cave... and the connecting short loop around from Pock Rock up through Ross's Cut. That needs to happen!

    Very good day out!
    Dark Mesa and Dark Mesa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I needed an easier day.

    Awake last night on the half hour… and that was after 2:30am when I first managed to drift off… but, out of bed before 6:30am… over to and on the trail before 7am. I thought I’d re-loop last weeks hike and snap some defining photos.

    Then, that odd impulse to head off to where I have not yet been… or not been in a long time, so I dropped into Dark Mesa Canyon and started enjoying that bit of off trail up to the “real” Mineral Springs Trail (the part that is no longer a Jeep route). From there I did cut across and over to the Spur Trail for the pictures.

    It looked as if the mountain bikers had been coming down Little Mineral Springs… made me wonder about a connecting spur from the top of that trail. So, up then off trail once again… rough route, but sort of nice. Not for bikes, but some potential for an upper looping connection to Mineral Springs above Dark Mesa Peak.

    I got pics of the peak and the mesa, as planned… and oriented the full length of the Mineral Springs Canyon drainage below the cave (…the spring fills and flows out of a cave that has been dug back into the hill). I’d never realized that that drainage splits the Basin, not flowing into the Lost Trail nor the drainages north of Dark Mesa. Interesting.

    I re-positioned an old forest service trail marker ½ mile over to the correct trail… it was the carbonite marker that once was bedded down near Indian Wells, where everyone parks. It had disappeared years ago… then earlier this year found it’s way half way up Little Mineral Springs trail. T5579... Mineral Springs Trail. I moved it higher up the route; ideally less prone to vandalism?

    Lots of pics to edit… then I need to hit a Hotspot for the upload to HAZ.

    Slow pace… cooler temps, and once it turned hot (sweat dripping off my arms and hands!) the soaked cotton T-shirt combined with a pleasant breeze to make it all just right.

    Thunderstorms predicted for later today… Fire Danger high… but, they have yet to close the Forest. Gotta like that!
    Dark Mesa and Dark Mesa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    ...early start, headed up and over to Dry Canyon, but on the way... both some energy issues and the thought of doing the dull, open Dry. And, I was staring up and over at the Dark Mesa, upper and lower. That had appeal. I made the looping turn to carry me over to access that ridge.

    It was a very nice hike... cacti blooming... shadows on cliffs... much like walking in and through a private desert park.

    I was surprised to find that the upper Mesa was really just a peak. Though surrounded by dark cliffs, it lacked the substance I was expecting to be the upper Mesa... and, it had a use trail directly off of the Mineral Springs Trail.

    Next, dropping down and past the Springs, I followed the real trail route down to the next pass and found access to the lower Mesa easy. I looped around the Mesa, noticing what appeared to be yet another trail down below and heading off to the south... it proved to be a great connecting Spur trail over to Little Mineral Springs trail. It was in great shape and covered with cacti in full magenta bloom.

    I exited LMS trail down at the Indian Wells, and went off trail over to Lost Trail Canyon, and looped back to my car in that drainage.

    It was not the harder day planned, but it was a great outing. New stuff... that seems to be what keeps me going of late. Now, for some stupid reason I did not take my camera along. So, got to redo the loop...

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
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    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To hike
    These features are both immediately available off of the Mineral Springs Trail, with Dark Mesa being below the Springs and the Dark Mesa Peak towering above the Springs... both at obvious passes. Also, both could be accessed from the Dark Mesa Spur Trail.
    page created by imike on May 24 2013 11:09 am
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