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Alamo Marble Quarry, NM

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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 4,620 feet
Elevation Gain 220 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.73
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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   Mar, Nov, Feb, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Geology Nearby
Step Back In Time...
by imike

The turn of the century… not ours, but that older one… found the new city of Alamogordo (Fat Cottonwood) booming and bustling. The books tell us that a local saying back then was any day starting out without a new house going up was a lost day.


The surrounding mountains provided the timber for the wooden buildings. Cloudcroft’s new Cloud Climbing Railroad was pumping logs down the hill to the local mills.

The rock up in Marble Canyon provided plenty of stone for foundations.

Some of the rock did a bit more.

Just inside the mouth of Marble Canyon was a deposit of higher grade marble… 1700’ long… 80’ thick. (…history book listed 17,000’ long, but I think they zero’d an extra). It was noted for its high gloss quality.

There is a reference about the mine operating round the clock in 1907.

The pictures I could find of the operation show a huge drag line boom… and little else in the way of machinery. There are still remains of the huge metal cable and the eye bolt anchors sunk into the towering cliffs.

Today, the tumble of rock slabs scattered over the lower slopes show the tell-tale bore holes drilled to facilitate splitting them off from the mountain side… those half slices nicely matching the half slice remaining on the bulk wall slabs. Some of the partially processed slabs lie on rotting timbers, leveled, ready to be recut into manageable pieces for hauling into town.

The only remaining evidence of this finished marble lies in the local cemeteries. There was one building constructed of this fine stone; it was demolished to make way for a bank building some years ago.

In addition to the cables and cuts, if you crawl around the works enough you will discover one of the old drilling rods hammered into the stone… along with a splitting wedge. That process of drill and wedge is still in use today.

This is a shorter hike… but when you factor the distance you get to travel back in history, it is pleasantly satisfying.

From the parking area near the Firestation on 10th you will walk south over into the mouth of Marble Canyon, then a short distance up canyon. The Quarry immediately comes into sight on your left. The remains of the old access road are also to your left; it is washed out but does provide an easier approach to the upper reaches of the mine. Climb out of the canyon bottom and wade through the bushes to take advantage of this easier route.

Once up into the slabs you will have to do a bit of scrambling to access the upper reaches. This area should be considered dangerous. Back during the active years, one of the operation managers took a misstep, fell… and died from his injuries. Stay Safe!

The access into this area is across private property. At this time there are no problems with the landowners; treat the hike with respect and it should stay that way.

At the far upper east end of the Quarry is the Quarry Canyon hike that you could use to loop over to Trail 119.

An Oldy but a Goody.

Check out the Triplog.

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

2013-11-09 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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Sunday Beginner's hike included 12 hikers, aged 2 to 78! The outing was appreciated by all... I swung by the local cemetery to grab some shots of just how this rock was put to use 100 years ago... The Quarry was a major production, operating 24/7 during the peak growth of the planned community of Alamogordo. Unfortunately, few examples of the end products are left... the final building was torn down for a bank parking lot a few years ago... while the marble was reputed to hold a high polish, its lack of color made for a bland end product...

    ...it now provides an interesting hike with the scored graffiti of ages...

    Google+ Photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/11748554 ... 5339291921
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Cool breeze made for a great hike. Up into the Quarry, shooting pics of the older initials carved into the marble walls. I liked the 15 year old who in 1933 climbed to a precarious shelf to register. There are higher marks, but likely scored using modern climbing gear. There are bolted routes in a variety of the clefts/faces.

    I worked some more on routing to Marble Bluffs... got really lucky today; scored an optimum track... and lucky again routing on up to the old Gold mine.

    GPS tracks on all that, then descended to track routes on both Traverses out of Terri's Cut.

    Second day for my OJ to have a tangy, bubbly augment... early stage fermentation! Maybe that was why the hike went so well?

    Odd guy camped out down below the "A"... carts and all. I was planning on doing low laps... decided to range higher to delay interaction. Day without crazy seemed better.

    Rains have scoured the "A" trail... confirms my earlier idea: I will reroute the trail over to better views and easier to maintain tracks... which will have the additional benefit of not being open to bikes, ATV or motorbike traffic. They can continue to destroy the traditional route.

    At 740,000' for the year: AEG. Couple weeks left this month: 40-60,000'? Might get close to the 800,000' by the end of the month, or not. I'm looking forward to switching to a four day hiking schedule in September... 60,000' per month for the last four months of the year.

    This summer of hiking down out of the cool has worked. I may go back to summer hiking in the higher reaches, but this was not bad.
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Meetup hikers all no-shows, so no early start, but it was cool enough out, and I routed up Quarry Canyon in such a fashion to remain in the shade to the top of Marbles Bluffs. That may become the new standard route. If the Forest Service closes down the trails due to fire danger this year it could be nice to have this backdoor route ready to go; it is all on private property!

    I cut over to the "A" trail for some up/down AEG... and home by noon to prepare for tomorrow's much longer and harder effort.

    Early starts; Order of the days!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Met Cathy and Terri for the hike up to the top of the Marble Bluffs... and on to the old Gold Mine. Cathy headed down the "A"... Terri and I headed for the Peak. Ran into Kim and Julia near the Catwalk and walked them on up to the new Spur Trail and on to the peak.

    I'd hiked full time with Kim back a few years ago... this encounter might rekindle that process?

    We stuck together for the hike down to Leah's Lair where Kim went a bit crazy with the climbing... then even more so over at the Caves in the "A" Bluff (Kim's Kave!!).

    From there the group split up... the ladies headed on down... I headed back up for some AEG laps, then a small hit on trail work. The current section is a real batch of work! I'm looking forward to getting up out of the heavy gravel... maybe hit the peak in three weeks?

    So, yet another all day day. It will likely remain the pattern through April as the AEG has to continue to compile.

    Hiking such a soft pace makes for a fairly easy day... feet sore... legs cramping if I fail to hit the potassium at the needed levels, along with net fluid... but, other than that, easy.

    Nice to have made a substantial move in regards the classification of our group outings. I just need to work on our comparative Ortega ratings for each hike. Once each route is scored we will have a fairly workable process.

    Long off trail hike tomorrow... difficult enough to scare most everyone away. Nice!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Not an early start, and switch to DST did not help with that. I felt beat up from the prior day... low energy... but I made it up the trail and even managed to do some trail grooming. I also cut the new trail route over into Terri's Cut.

    The first planned Meetup group showed up and Kim hiked them up to the Caves and Lair for fun. (Five Hikers).

    15 Hikers showed up for the 2pm outing! We wandered up Lost Trail to the Indian Wells. I had to cut away a bit early to run back down and out to make the 4pm final hike. Just Three hikers but a fun loop: Quarry to Marble Bluffs, the old Gold Mine and down the "A"... for good measure showed them the new trail route into "A" Canyon, South... Terri's Cut. Mixed opinions as to whether or not it was as easy as I think it is...

    So... long day. Not great AEG... I'll be playing catchup this week!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Wednesday double turned into a triple!

    Shared the peak hike with Terri and Brenda... then we looped back out (Terri and Bill) to enjoy the Marble Canyon...Quarry Canyon route to the top of the Marble Bluffs. From there, up to the old Gold Mine on the "A" Trail where we split up... I headed up to re-stage my trail tools and log some trail work hours... they headed down hill to close out their day earlier. Great weather! Nice routes. Trail getting better; nearly have it up to the "A" trail Bluffs.
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wednesday Looping
    second day of early out... today by mistake. It was 3:30am... thought it was an hour later, so just came over for some slow lapping before I meet Terri at 6am for the "real" hiking. Should be an easier day unless we add in the cave section down in Leah's Lair. Not certain if anyone meeting us for the second phase of the day hike... We'll hit the "A" trailhead mid morning before we loop back up to the Fissure... at least that is the plan. Guess I'll update as the day progresses...

    ... if I switch over to a Hotspot modem (from this USB device) I could just carry along the tablet and update during the hike! Guess I should see if Cricket offers that.

    Went as projected... except for dropping my flashlight to the bottom of the Lair... left rope up there; I'll go back to retrieve it and my light... with Jim?

    Snow settling in as we finished up!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    15 hikers started the day out... time constraints thinned Terri's Friday hiking group down to 11 by the time we reached the very nice turn around point 2.5 miles up the canyon at the impressive stairstep falls formation.

    There was some discussion about the route possibly being more difficult than my description suggested, since I'd used that word "easy". Of course, when I called it Marble Canyon, Short and Easy... I was really thinking in the comparative... I need to quit doing that... thinking!

    By the end of their outing everyone seems to have appreciated the rewards of their efforts; they did great!

    Since Leah had driven over from Las Cruces and was spending the night to score tomorrow's hike up Dog Canyon... I offered to show her some more of the area... and the Quarry was right there. Up and through the Quarry... into and up Quarry Canyon to the old gold mine... over and up the "A"... then, thinking about my longer, harder training hike tomorrow I figured we should stop and call it a day at the Fissure.

    This interesting cleft/rift formation cuts through the "A" Ridge, yet goes mostly unnoticed, even though it runs right next to the trail. Sitting on top and gazing down into the cut inspires thoughts of slot canyons. The mouth to the fissure runs from the Marble Spur: Grotto Canyon, N1... a short distance to the south. It is fiercely overgrown... such that through the years I've never taken the trouble to really enter the formation. I would eventually... with lopping shears and rope!

    Today, I walked around and down... then into the tangled mass... then noticed a hidden ledge that could carry us above and into the formation. Passing all the entry obstructions we came to a low cave entrance...Leah moved into the lead and crawled into the opening. It quickly gave way to the open topped cut... and to a steeply descending fallaway! We moved a short distance further to note that it continues to descend!

    We are coming back with rope and more time... but since Leah is the first of our group to enter, we may have a new name for the formation: Leah's Lair! She's coming back with Leopard skin leotard for the exploratory photo shoot! :)

    I cannot believe I left my camera topside with my pack; missed all shots of our first trip into this special space...

    All in all, just a massively fun day!

    I added a touch more up/down to round out the training aspect for the day... trying to keep it progressive!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Supposed to be a Marble Canyon Monday exploratory... but the snow was obscuring most of the area, and John committed to the long drive over from El Paso. I gave him the option of a short hike then heading up the mountain for even more snow and his first snow shoeing outing... or, we could do an interesting bit of Marble on our way to Ortega Peak.

    He opted for the hiking.

    I loaded up the new Peak log ammo box Jim had found up in Short Canyon... and off we went.

    We walked in snow once up a couple thousand feet... and I was hiking in my usual open net running shoes... with no overshoes in the pack. Soaked feet by the peak. Oh, well...

    After placing the new box and reclaiming the old one... and taking in the snow shrouded views... we headed down. I suggested some options... and we decided on Ortega Ridge. I thought it might be sun exposed enough to move us out of the snow. Eventually, it was... but we had to descend through ankle deep for miles. I finally got to strip off the soaking wet socks and put on dry... alas I still had to put the soaked shoes back on.

    I'd hiked the upper and lower section of Ortega Ridge as relief routes from the surrounding canyons; today was my first full ridge descent. It started out with a more thorough exploration of the Rock Garden area.. very nice!

    Lower down I checked out the details of the avalanche cleft that we've always figured would be an optional route into Ortega South, middle section. Not only was it good at the top, it oriented around a Rift that cut all the way through the Ridge over to Yubao's Cut off of Ortega Canyon North.

    Below The Rift, we discovered a route along the high ridge line that was accented with exceptional rock walls, creating a corridor walk that descended repeated drops... a much nicer route than hiking the easier canyon edges down off the ridge top... my usual path when traversing up or down Ortega Ridge.

    We eventually reached the Saddle... dropped down into Ortega South. John solo'd up canyon... even attempting to scale the big falls!!!

    As sunset hit we'd exited the canyon and made our way along the pipeline trail back to our cars.

    I feel like I should re-write the description for Ortega Ridge to include this higher oriented route... or... just let folks be surprised by what I failed to say about the Ridge?

    All in all.. great day out!

    Pics tomorrow!
    Alamo Marble Quarry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Scheduled and rescheduled... day was to be a recovery hike from yesterday's long mileage. Snow and rain made that mileage zero! Jim had asked to alter the approach: tag on the Quarry and Quarry Canyon then descend The Spur... sounded reasonable...

    ...then he called to offset the start (11am instead of 9am)... and given the snow, made sense to catch a few hours of melt off. I just headed up early and met him above the Quarry. Great hour of just enjoying the sun exposed rock faces.

    Easy pace with great overviews carried us to the old gold mine... then up the "A" to the Bluff, the landmark hiding the easy access over and down into the Spur. The snow finally caught up to us as we dropped into that shadowed cut.

    Instead of descending the bottom of the canyon we hiked the north ridge... mostly snow free... and keeping us high enough to enjoy the distinctive landmark: The Pinnacle. From the upper ridge it appears as an odd balanced rock... from below and west it appears as a volcano looking mini-peak. Jim scrambled to the top for pics... not really a good idea: rotten rock ready to go any time. I do not think this feature will exist for too many more years!

    Off the Pinnacle... down the ridge... into the Canyon bottom... effectively below the Narrows and into the more open, bedrock pathway. Just Nice! It had been years since I'd first hiked up this cut... and it was much better than I recalled. It was good!

    Down and out... and since Jim had never hiked Ortega South, we turned up canyon to enjoy what may be the best of the best in this area. We turned back at the big falls... hiked out.

    Back at the "A" Trail... the sun not yet set... I mentioned finding a man made trail up Short Canyon, off the "A".. so, off we went to round out the day.

    Closed out the day as the sun set.

    Nice day!

    I'll post photos tomorrow!!

    Permit $$
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    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From any of the major north or south streets in Alamogordo, turn east on 10st street, following it to its end. You will be at a city park and Firestation. Park there, or you can drive a bit closer by heading south across a dirt lot. Walk south over to the mouth of Marble Canyon...
    page created by imike on Nov 09 2013 9:24 am
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

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