Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Leave This One Alone!
As I was making my way up through the cacti and spiny overgrowth so common to this cut, the thought came that perhaps this route should not be written about... but... nearing the terminating cliffs, I realized I was having fun!
Someone else might find the same pleasure as I was enjoying...?
The mileage and elevation gains orient from where you will be parking your car: at the Fire Station. The cut itself is less than one half mile long, but there will be plenty to make your day.
Mouth of Marble Canyon: .80 Miles/ 4800'
Mouth of Marble Canyon North, North Spur (N2): 1.39 Miles/ 5000'
Mouth of Slab Canyon (N4): 1.77 Miles/ 5204'
Mouth of Cactus Cliffs Cut (N5): 2.16 Miles/ 5513'
Cactus Cliffs: 2.5 Miles/ 6300'
Top of Canyon: 2.55 Miles/ 6385'
The (N) Cuts all orient to your left... off of Marble Canyon North...
After a nice steep entry, you find yourself pushing through a thick overgrowth, to discover: a waterfall! As you work your way around and up you realize that the entry is really a 300' tall cascading dry falls formation, full of way too much cacti... and not enough good scramble.
Upon reaching the lip of the upper edge, the hike does get easier, but never easy. The route probably averages 3,000' per mile grade... and the next section below the Cactus Cliffs is overgrown!
Fortunately, the Cliffs pose no real problem... there is a nice, spiny scramble up and through!
Once on top of the Cactus Cliffs (a lower band of cliffs winding across the top of N5, N6, and N7... you can decide to follow the cliffs around to ascend to Ortega Peak up the Ortega Peak Cut (N8)... or perhaps down Slide Canyon (N7)... or head north to connect with Slab Canyon (N4)... or...?
Take the time to check out the Canyons cut into Hershberger Ridge across Marble Canyon North... and realize that yes, there are cuts more difficult than the Cactus Cliffs Cut!
Fun for All!
Check out the Triplogs.
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.