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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.

Winter Peak, NM

no permit
122 2 0
Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,613 feet
Elevation Gain 1,447 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.9
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2013-08-19 Jim_H
10  2012-11-03 Jim_H
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   May, Sep, Aug, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
...a Peak for Winter...
by imike

Likely In-Season!
When the winter storms settle over the higher elevations here in the Sacramento Mts and a hike not so snow bound is desired, there is the so named Winter Peak... named because it is easily accessed during that period. The peak is one of the higher points along the frontal portion of the range, overlooking Alamogordo and the Tularosa basin. The access is from the backside, and the entire route is up a steep jeep road (still in use!). In addition to the distant vistas of the White Sands National Monument and Sierra Blanca, the hikers are often treated to the steady sound of gunfire from the oft used target shooting site at the trailhead. It can be a bit unnerving to realize the shooters are firing into the embankments directly below the trail. But, if you can ignore that one little distraction, the path does allow for a great bit of exercise away from the wet mush in the higher elevations. The hike starts immediately off of NM Highway 82 just a few miles above Alamogordo. The easy access and all weather roads make this a nice alternative during the messy months. It is not a getaway hike, but the views make up for some of that.

It is possible to hike up to the top of this frontal range ridge and then take off cross country to the next high Peak to the south, Ortega Peak. From there, connections can be made to Dry Canyon trail which would loop you back to your car... or, venture on up into the mountains on a variety of connecting trails. But, for the most part this trail simply allows for fast and dryer access to a nice steep hike when other alternatives are just too messy.

After pulling off of Hiway 82, pull down into the wide areas at the base of the hill and park. The road/trail is the first to your right. It winds around the large open meadow (shooting range) and can clearly be seen heading up and over the hills.

If you get to the trailhead and find you just do not have the energy, and you have 4-wheel drive... you can always simply drive to the top!

Shiny cars do make tempting moving targets... think about that before you head up the hill.

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2009-05-01 imike
    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
    Winter Peak
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    Nearly too tired to type!

    These daily hits are supposed to be in the 10-12 mile, 4,000' AEG range... yet since each day is a different hike, and they include GPS track documenting... I'm finding myself drawn over and around to catch more routes. I also find myself wandering around over ridges and canyons I've never been in... very rough off trail sections.

    The miles today have left me foot sore! But, it was a great day out. The shorter hike I'd planned was altered because of the low lying clouds; visibility was limited to 20-50 yards as I started to drop off of Winter Peak. I was shooting for a 12 mile day, descending directly across the Basin to the Garden Wall for an easy amble back to the truck. It was so socked in I was not certain which drainage to head down... instead I reversed into Horse Canyon and explored a potential new route along the Beeman Ledges. That was nice!

    I was hoping to find a route that would avoid ascending?descending The Wall on Beeman Ridge. After the easier old horse trail route up the Ridge, having to scramble up The Wall is just not inviting. I was also looking for a route that moved away from city views. Horse Canyon seemed to be doing both... but the Ledges were not descending fast enough... I realized I needed to drop all the way to the canyon bottom...?

    The lower section of Beeman Canyon is basically impassable, at least by anything but a person enjoying the Class II bouldering of the Jumble... no horse or mule passages. Yet from my high point vantage I could see a very clear horse trail working its way up the middle canyon and on past the Fork and up into Beeman Canyon North. Beeman Ridge had the old horse trail up to the Wall... and that path did continue on towards the Sentinel Rocks. I'd been told by an old hiking partner that they'd been taken on that path around to a waterfall formation...

    ... the only waterfall in Beeman Canyon was at the top of the Jumble. Could that path access the middle section above the falls?

    The sight of that upper trail strongly suggested that the trail had to makes its way below the base of the canyon cliffs yet above the canyon bottom, connecting to the middle canyon. I worked my way to the end of the Ledges then began an overly steep descent to the bottom of the middle canyon. I found the old trail.

    I've hiked the canyon for years, walking the easy flat bottom of the middle after scaling the dryfall. It never occurred to me that a path could possibly be snaking along at the base of the rocks towering on the south side of the canyon. It was faint... no horse use for decades, but t was easy walking through some truly great scenery. It would around to the Sentinels then up onto the ridge proper, right at the base of the Wall.

    I still need to find a better ridge ascent, but this new trail section provides a great exit route for a post Jumble adventure, or a great in/out hike to enjoy the hike to the Dryfall.

    All the up/down/around of those side canyons paid off. I shortened my exit by detouring down the Spur Trail off Beeman Ridge.

    Time for a shorter, easier day! I'd like to hold to the 4,000' AEG average... but with less dead slow off trail exploring. August is supposed to be about re-doing routes to score GPS tracks. Home by noon to work on computer. 4pm finishes and long miles kill the online energy.
    Winter Peak
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    First thought was to hit Ortega Peak with a weighted pack to get back on track after missing that yesterday. Second thought was my energy felt low. I opted for the much easier single track up Mineral Springs... with thoughts of going slow and eliminating some of the potential egress routes up to the cliffs. I was thinking less than four hours total for the day.

    At the end of four hours I was far and gone...

    Ten hours seemed to round out the day nicely. Energy never did come up but I just continued to move... very slowly.

    I discovered yet another old trail, this one a Spur route off Beeman Ridge. It looks like an old horse trail with some recent ATV and hiking activity. I still cannot figure why folks place cairns along canyon bottoms and ridge tops... how can you possibly get lost along either route!? Also, may be developing an alternative route up and around The Wall to allow for more hiking and less scrambling to connect the lower with the upper section of the Ridge.

    It was interesting; the point I'd reached at the end of four hours was probably just a bit over a mile from my truck... yet the route I hiked from that point to descend to the truck took three hours before it finally turned to start taking me closer to the vehicle. I was three miles away by that time. But, all of that was fairly easy walking and the final two miles was nearly flat sidewalk. I'm sure it was an easier route and probably faster. The alternative descent would have included 40-50 degree slopes with cliff scrambling. Loose scree... those oh, so careful foot placements that include moments of balance and rebalance... then the searching for the next down step. And then there are those moments wherein balance fails. I think the technical term is falling. I did some of that tracking uphill. Downhill would likely have rounded out an interesting number of those moments. So, the longer, easier, safer... faster return route.

    Wish I'd packed an additional couple of quarts of fluid. Day was saved with the heavy rain clouds rolled in dropping the temps 20 degrees!

    So... low energy... still can move.

    Note: No one spotted the weird, evil alien in the photoset... guess hikers see clouds... on other sites it was spotted by 50+ people....
    Winter Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Timmy, Yubao, Lindsay and Louis showed up for this promoted outing. Eleven folks had registered... I guess the 18 miles projected day, off trail, with steep climbs and bouldering scared them off. That was the idea. It does not work out well when the wrong folk show up for these canyon and ridge treks. Great weather... and the Jumbles were far more fun than I recalled. It was a fun day on the mountain... I guess it is time to revisit all of the canyons I have not been to for awhile!
    Winter Peak
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    As I am learning the geography of the area, I am getting better acquainted with what I am seeing on my hikes. This hike might be the on trail route to Beeman Ridge, and the peak called Beeman Peak. I like the views and the country is nice -I saw a fox, but the road is hard to hike and the gun range a huge detractor. Oh well. It is looking more and more like Ortega will be my new Elden.
    Winter Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Too much snow on the upper ridges forced us to drop down on the far side of the mountain and hike the longer loop around... shades of a couple years ago without the added second mountain hike. This ridge is a great winter hike, and I found the bottom of the horse pack trail, so the lower portion is much easier.
    Winter Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Okay... it's a bit less than 10 hours into my hiking day... I'm sitting here on this rock. Sitting is a good thing. I'm tired and a bit foot sore, and reflecting on just exactly what brought me to be on this particular rock. It is not where I'm supposed to be.

    The first half of the planned day went of without a hitch... I explored and documented Beeman Canyon. It was a very nice drainage... with a really great giant rock section (the Jumble). It was a demanding bit of hiking although my GPS did not think so; it kept logging me out on breaks, thinking that I'd stopped, when in fact I was just going too slow for it to believe I could really be doing any work. Just the opposite; that was the hard work area... slow and go bouldering. It turned out to be a much more spiritual experience than I'd planned, but that is not really a bad thing (... all that blood sacrifice!) I hit the peak feeling pretty good... and then decided to change the planned day. I was supposed to drop off the south side of the peak, traverse the ridge and drop down to cut Lost Trail... following that back home. But, once on top I did not feel like finding a downclimb throught the cliffs, nor did I relish the thought of making my way across the snow covered ridge, much less down the hill over untried ground... it just sounded nicer to hit the trails and make my way home the longer way. So, off I went.

    Now, the one negative aspect of the trail: it heads off in the opposite direction of home... adding 3-6 miles over all to the total. It also dropped down 1600' on the wrong side of the mountain... which all had to be regained, plus more, to loop back over to the homeward side. These thoughts weighed heavy on me as I headed off... and I think they influenced my pattern of not so good decisions from that point onward for the day.

    As I made my way down to Dry Canyon, then hiking up the trail towards Ortega Peak, I kept gazing to the ridge line above me on my right, and noticed what appeared to be a lower cut to the ridge... and it occurred to me that if that cut were as easy to climb as it appears, and crossed the ridge about the right distance north of Ortega Peak, then it could save me 3-4 miles of hiking, and possibly cut off 300-500 feet of climbing... both very appealing. So, off and up I went. It was a fun climb, mostly up a bedrock cut. What I failed to notice, was that the cut curved and angled away from Ortega... slanting back to the north. Now, I did have a GPS unit that with one glance I could have seen the error of my way... but, no... I hiked up and up... and, low and behold, crested the ridge to find myself back up where I had been two hours earlier... that place where I decided I did not want to do the cliff, ridge, snow thing. And now, this late in the day, it was no longer even an option. I needed to get off the mountain before it got dark... so, once again I was trailing down to Dry Canyon!

    And to this rock... 17 miles into my hiking day... maybe a bit over an hour and a half left before sunset... I'm guessing 4 miles of off trail wash will carry me out of the mountains... and unfortunately, all the wrong direction... with, I'm guessing six miles back to the mouth of Beeman Canyon, looping around the foothills. Now, if it were just those ten miles, not all that bad, but the kicker for this day: I did not drive to the trailhead; I hiked that 5.5 miles from my house! So... am I looking at those 4 miles down canyon, six miles around, then 5.5 miles home on already beat up feet?

    Oh well.

    I did get lucky. It was 4 miles down... and I was able to slice the homeward section down to 5 miles.. but, the traverse was only two miles around!

    13 hours... 23 minutes... home at 8:30pm

    I be tired...

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Alamogordo, take Hiway 82 east towards Cloudcroft. Between mile post 5 and 6 turn right, entering Dry Canyon across a cattleguard. Park at the bottom of the hill past the cattleguard. First road on your right at the bottom is the trail.
    page created by imike on May 01 2009 12:05 pm
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