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Dog Canyon Upper, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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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.
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,377 feet
Elevation Gain 1,023 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,050 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.3
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Winter to Early Winter
Sun  5:46am - 6:11pm
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Water
This Dog Might Bite!
by imike

Dog Canyon: Above The Falls

While Dog Canyon Trail (#106) stands out as the best known and most visited of all the area canyon trails, it only encounters a small part of the overall canyon drainage… there is more to be experienced.


That formal trail heads up and out of the canyon after it crosses the bottom of the cut at the site of the old line cabin. From there it heads north climbing out and onto Joplin Ridge.

Standing at the cabin site, looking up canyon, you gaze upon some very impressive cliffs, split by the towering waterfall formation… and it is hard not to wonder what lies above that cut.

In fact, miles more canyon flow up and away above the Falls, and the section immediately above is a delightful hike.

A great amount of the canyon bottom is scoured bedrock with a selection of mini-falls to scramble over. Though much diminished, the sidewall cliffs add a distinct canyon like feel to the setting.

You can continue to hike all the way up to Westside Road and beyond, though the name of the canyon changes to Road Canyon...?

There are a variety of approaches to access this area, with the easiest likely to be driving Westside Road to Short Ridge, and following the Forest Road (90P) down to it’s terminus above the canyon... then simply hiking down and in.

You can also cut over from the Dog Canyon Trail route… and anywhere along the FR 90B... just head south and find your way down and in.

Wait for Fall and score the added benefit of lots of color...

This may be the best of the canyon sections below West Side Road… and above the lower Cliffs. It takes a bigger effort... but it is worth it!

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

2013-05-30 imike
    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
    Dog Canyon Upper
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our annual Mystic Meander... 17 hikers this year. Great weather... good color... not as good as last year, but nice! As with the large group from two years ago (32 hikers), I turned the group around before we reached the great lower section... but since the entire canyon is great, no big deal. Very interesting Dog/Elk encounter (dog walked right up to the rear end of the napping elk... then had no idea what to do!?) ...and Raena scoring a great Elk Antler rack (which I carried up and out of the canyon... my workout for the day!)... made for nice augments. Jason scored a few Drone movies... including a climb up in Jody Spur.

    next year I may structure the event a bit differently... backpack? Car camp with earlier start? Closed group... ? I have a year to plan!
    Dog Canyon Upper
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Scouted road conditions up on Joplin Ridge... and checked out north side canyon (South side San Andreas Spur) for the upcoming group hike weekend (Mystic Meander). Road not so good... hopefully no more rain! Canyon easy access on top of ridge and great fossil rocks! Need to develop connecting loop to bottom of spur. Need to carry in tools for extracting select fossils!

    Driving home, stopped to review mine roadways with Luster... spotted a new old mine... hiked in and sure enough, yet another in the system east of Womack mines. Need to go back to haul out ore. All in all, a good day! Spotted lots of potential hikes.
    Dog Canyon Upper
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Weather cut the group size way down for our 2016 Mystic Meander... sort of all for the good... or better! Last year: 30+ hikers. This year: 6! There was light off and on rain, but the roads were fine, and the drizzle was more of an accent than distraction.

    The Ozark Cut section of Dog Canyon remains one of the very best routes, the best upper route, in the area. We got lucky on the color this year... though too late by a few weeks, we caught color! 2016 has not been a great year for Fall displays, but this had some exceptional areas.

    Unlike last year, this year we made it easily down to the Keyhole. Water trap again blocked our way, but we managed to negotiate a downclimb into the lower section.

    Joe and Jody shared a special moment (marriage proposal!)...

    I'll continue to do this each Fall... so very nice!
    .
    Dog Canyon Upper
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The plan... check out the waterfall formations that cut off access in both forks of San Andreas Canyon. I'd done the North Fork years ago, but never made it back to check out the South Fork. I was not expecting much from that canyon... but you never know.

    Yubao wanted to search for antlers.

    After pulling into the access road, we took off for the canyon off trail... the better to locate antlers? Found the first while still ranging high on the ridge, so set them aside and marked the spot on the GPS... and proceeded to drop over the cliffs. I was very surprised to find we were into an exceptional canyon cut. Once in the bottom, we trekked along, often enjoying bedrock sidewalks and rough surrounding cliffs. It went on and on... We finally reached the waterfall formation. Instead of being in the 40-60' range as expected, it was more like 150'... with an interesting arch at the top.

    We stopped for lunch... enjoyed the vista views.

    Climbing back out of the waterfall I noticed a nice ledge... perfect lunch spot that we'd overlooked climbing down. I thought we should spend some time there, so... and, sitting there I noticed a very distinctive trail on a bench down in the canyon bottom. Studying it further I recognized it as the Dog Canyon Trail (#106)... We were in the wrong Canyon!

    I did have this canyon on my list to explore, but it was to be a year or more away... I had very low expectations for it. Now, here we were, and it was exceptional, possibly the best of all the mid elevation drainages. We had turned into the wrong Forest road, then since we immediately had gone off trail searching for antlers, I'd never noticed the mistake. The GPS unit had the contour lines turned off... a series of pleasant errors had brought us to the cut.

    Yubao scored three elk sets and one complete deer set, with skull. Other than a nasty spill he took walking back (over flat ground!) it was a great outing.

    Have to go back in the Fall for the color...

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To canyon trip
    This canyon could be accessed off the Dog Canyon Trail (#106) or from West Side Road (FR 90), or from he south off of Burnt Ridge. The side cliffs can be steep... check your map before heading in
    page created by imike on May 30 2013 4:57 pm
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