Not for Everyone...
The Canyons within the Basin area on the east side of Alamogordo all provide some unique and interesting challenges. Staircase Canyon is a standout for different.
As you work your way up Ortega Canyon North, around one mile up canyon an obvious cut orients from your right. It is blocked by dense overgrowth and a scramble of boulders. It does not look inviting.
If you make the effort to move up and past this initial blockade you will be pleasantly surprised… nearly constant bedrock walkways for the next half mile. And… the first tenth mile climbs 300 feet over a very interesting stair step formation!
Any hike that ascends at that 3,000’ per mile rate has to be rated very difficult… yet it moves so easily I regret having to give it that more difficult rating.
The fun is short lived… halfway up the canyon there is intermittent overgrowth to work your way through. At points it may be preferable to move out of the bottom of the canyon to the bedrock side ridge. Higher up the bottom sections again provide nice bedrock sidewalks. Before you top out the drainage it is easier to move up and on to the ridgeline to the left.
The canyon fully ridges out a little over one mile up. At that point you are effectively on Ortega Ridge. If you move to the south you will have nice overviews of Ortega Canyon South… and the relatively easy hike up and over to connect with Trail 119 (“A” Trail). Or, you can move due east and hit the Dry Canyon Traverse and loop down and around Lost Trail.
Check the map; there are additional looping options.
This is a must do hike, even if only one time.
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.