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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

A Trail Bluffs, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,290 feet
Elevation Gain 1,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,000 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.07
Interest Off Trail Hiking
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   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Water
It's -A- Standout!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
The "A" Trail has a variety of interesting points of interest. Most would not deserve a specific description dedicated to them, but this prominent landmark offers enough diversion as to be brought into specific focus.


It is accessed by leaving the "A" Trail between the 6200'-6400' levels, walking north a few hundred yards over to the obvious rock projection. Approached from the lower reaches it towers hundreds of feet above you. Accessed from the top, it juts out as a rocky cut, separated from the ridge by a narrow cleft.

The Bluffs form the upper terminus of Terri's Cut ("A" Canyon South) and the upper end of the "A" Ridges. Jim's Cut runs along the north side of the Bluffs.

There are broad meadow areas surrounding the Bluffs, providing a variety of possible camping spots. If you'd like something a bit more home like... check out the narrow clefts on the east side of the Bluffs. You may discover the entry to some interesting cave formations that could provide protection from the elements.

One of those caves will carry you all the way through the Bluffs to emerge on the west side on a small shelf, a hundred feet above the meadow below; quite the patio!

The Bluffs also mark the traversing route to access the "A" Trail from the upper reaches of Ortega Canyon North, Yubao's Cut, Ortega Canyon South, Ortega Ridge, Jim's Cut and points beyond. This route, Michal's Traverse, is slowly being developed into a trail as the popularity and use continue to increase.

The Bluffs also serve to give notice of the approach of the most interesting feature on the "A" Trail: Leah's Lair, the Fissure. It lies just above the Bluffs. It is easy to bypass unless you make note of it's proximity to the huge Bluffs formation.

Note: recently lower cave openings have been discovered in the bottom of Leah's Lair... if you have hiked up to the Bluffs to experience the caves, you may want to go a bit higher up the trail to explore the more dramatic formations to be found there.

So... for a destination... or for the connecting potentials. The Bluffs have much to offer!

Note: if exploring the caving potentials: be very careful... go prepared!

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

2014-02-04 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
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Earlier start was nice.. need to remember to pre-pack to get out the door with momentum. Light rain midday... had to stop and slice off the pants legs (too hot!) "A" trail staying in reasonably good shape; makes me wonder why it was in such poor condition for the last 20 years! I can not see letting it get that bad again.

    Hope to quit driving to trailheads and get back to walking from home like in 2011.
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The day was planned as a sample hike day, ideally like what I hope to be my every day outing through June. I awoke early, but a bit before 4am it just looked socked in over the mountain... too oppressive to head out. I did odds and ends and hit the trailhead belatedly at 5am. The extra time allowed me to recall that this would be a Memorial Day hike.

    So: Camo pants and shirt... field boots. MRE. 1/2 gallon chocolate milk. 1/2 gallon OJ. 20 oz Prune Juice. Monster Energy drink. Gallon of HOH. Crutch.

    Finding a nice rock slab around 10:30am I reflected on the day. I thought of the uncle I never met... the uncle I was named after. My mom's brother who forever will reside in the bottom of the bay in Hawaii among the ruins of the Arizona. I've lived thrice his short years. I'm not sure what thoughts would serve as a worthy memorial to his sacrifice.

    The Monster drink powered the initial hours of the day...

    The MRE: cheesy egg with veggies, crackers, salsa verde... apple drink. I skipped the scone and apple butter... saved the milk shake. I downed the prune juice waiting for the entree to heat up. I slipped into a pancho when the light drizzle started. I wrote some journal notes.

    I cached the water. I carried the oj back down the hill.

    I'm hiking with a crutch, but as was noted on the last few group outings: my slow is faster than most folks fast. It's still slow and I avoid the steeper section up to Ortega Peak. I log hours. I score AEG. June might be an odd AEG record month for me. You'd think that would come with full and healthy function. I think it may come through the plodding of hours? A month of slow and steady... and long? Maybe.
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wandered around a bit... checking out what might be possible hiking with the crutch. Scrambling up and down is tedious, but possible. Trail getting better. I should be back on track for daily hiking by next week, but it may be awhile before I go anything but slow. Slow does allow for longer days and solid AEG if I really want to vest the hours....?
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Day was scheduled for a timed ascent to Ortega Peak... and a made an early start with every intention of getting back early to work projects.

    But...

    Once hiking, I felt more like going longer and higher; score some of the upper elevation cool. It also felt like one of those "first days of the rest of your life..." so I carried along a notebook to plot out and re-plan the coming months of training. That is pretty much how the day progressed. Clouds rolled in midday. I scored some up down laps off Karr Canyon road. Eventually, I came back down and turned up the Ortega Spur trail, then realized it really needed to be swept, so I went down to the tools and brought them up... and swept the entire lower slab rock area.

    Looked as if I might make it back to the trailhead before 4pm but I ran into Joseph and Devon (local dentist?) running up the "A" trail. They asked me if I knew where the caves were... so, I hiked them up to the "A" Bluffs and then on to Leah's Lair. They seemed stoked!

    I snapped pics of them doing both features then showed them the trail connections to the old Gold Mine and the connecting spur to Terri'a Cut...

    Long day without food and just 60 oz of OJ... time to hydrate up and figure out what would make a nice cutting dinner.
    A Trail Bluffs
    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!
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Feeling tired. Not sure if it was the early morning laps...up...down...up...or, the raking for hours... or the climbing up/down, in/out of the caves. Might simply be the low food volume and limited variety I'm eating while I cut body weight? I guess the simple 900' per mile grade of the hike to the peak could have done it. Just 4pm and I'm already tired.

    Terri's Meetup group: Lulu, Samat, Joe, Summer, Chica. With the newly added features along this trail, folks are gaining more interest. Yesterday's young group planning to revisit the area tomorrow. Then again, I'll be back, too... nothing new in that!
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Not paying attention hiking before sunrise... walked over into the wrong canyon! Provided a good reason to explore options for traversing up and over, finally getting into the right canyon... and heading up Jim's Cut... it was nice!

    Explored more cave options at the Bluffs... then back down to meet Bill... for a trip up Terri's Cut. Today included Terri clearing all the upper Class II climbs! Nice!!!

    Back up exploring the west side caves in the Bluffs... then over to Leah's Lair... full descent with Terri confirming the hot airflow coming out of the lower cave entry. Today there was no wind; something is generating hot air?!!

    Skipped the trail work... home early. Exceptional weather!
    A Trail Bluffs
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Monday Marble Madness
    my normal solo exploratory day was joined by Timmy and Juarisca ( that's what can happen when hikes are posted on the Meetup Calendar!)... so, I headed up N4 to see what it would be like without all the over growth. It was nice!

    Once up the cut, we tramped up and around the Cactus Cliffs... where the pace slowed to a crawl with an over focus on fossil formations in the cliffs.

    Day was nice... enjoyed the off trail ramble up and around to Ortega Peak... including checking out the overhanging rock (Terri's Terrace?)

    To round out their day, we dropped into Leah's Lair... with daylight illuminating to the very bottom... and, checking out that deeper area where Jim had speculated last week about the possibility of the Fissure continuing on down... we discovered: the Fissure continues on down! There is a cave taking off and down from the apparent bottom of the cut! Need to go back with rope and lights... who knew? Timmy wants it named after him...?... Timmy's Tomb... Timmy's Trench... Timmy's Trough? We need to get down into it to check out the features. Then we can name it.

    Next... to the Bluffs for a trip through those caves... got photos of them popping out high up the west side of the Bluff. Nice.

    Finished up with a downclimb into the Gold Mine Pit...

    Overall... a very nice day! And, there was some exploration...

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To hike
    The obvious connecting route to the Bluffs: the "A" Trail... but as noted in the description, any of the canyon and ridges oriented to the north benefit from the connection along Michal's Traverse, allowing an easy exit down the "A" trail after ascending those routes.
    page created by imike on Feb 04 2014 1:13 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
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