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Staircase Canyon - Yubao's Cut, NM

no permit
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Guide 0 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
0 of 5 by 0
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,269 feet
Elevation Gain 1,331 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,350 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
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
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Mar, Apr, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:52am - 6:01pm
0 Alternative
Not for Everyone...
by imike

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 is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2013-11-25 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
    Staircase Canyon - Yubao's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    John over with a request to check out the caves and Leah's Lair... so, Brenda joined us for an exploratory add-on with Ortega Canyon North extension to Michal's Traverse. We got lucky and found a drop in right at the huge dryfall formation...

    After the loop was completed, I stayed up and logged some laps... and a couple of hours of trail work.

    good day. Now... a week of pictures to edit and post!
    Staircase Canyon - Yubao's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Weather was cold and questionable. Everyone cancelled for the Meetup hike, so I deviated from the plan and headed up to check out the cut up in Ortega North that Yubao had begun to explore during a break on a group hike last year. He noted then it was way overgrown…

    …it was… but just at the canyon mouth. Working through the blockade of boulder tumble and plants the canyon instantly opened up to bedrock. It stayed bedrock for a long time. And, for the first tenth of a mile it was staircase bedrock climbing close to 300’! It was pure fun; I had to wonder whether or not I had to give the hike a difficult rating… and I guess it is necessary. A grade of 3,000’ per mile… overgrowth and treacherous rock. Yet, I’m out of shape and was fully enjoying the hike.

    It was more difficult higher up… so, I guess it will get a hard rating.

    Once terminating the canyon I drifted over to Ortega Ridge and hiked on up to the base of Ortega Peak. I took the easy option of the trail down off the mountain. Oddly enough, I fell… first time this year… just walking on the official trail! Hundreds of hours over terrible terrain and I fall on the trail.


    I’m realizing there may be 100 local hikes available… immediately from the edge of town. 20 in the Basin… 15 Marble Canyon… 20+ Alamo Canyon… 10 Ridge hikes…. 20 upper connecting hikes… 15 Associated canyons…? Guess I should make a list. And, I am still discovering new routes… not sure when that will draw to a close. Of course, I could hop in my truck and drive a bit and it expands tremendously. Who Knew!?

    Good that I hiked long on Saturday… woke up Sunday morning to 6” snow and still falling… I’ll hike, but it will be much shorter!

    Monday: Still snowing!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To hike
    Hike about one mile up Ortega Canyon North, past the saddle splitting Ortega Ridge. The first major drainage coming in from your right is Staircase Canyon. It is blocked by large boulders and heavy overgrowth. Wind your way through this initial obstacle and you are on your way!
    page created by imike on Nov 25 2013 11:34 am
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