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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.

Caballero Canyon Trail #103, NM

no permit
35 0 3
Guide 0 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,248 feet
Elevation Gain -1,984 feet
Accumulated Gain 15 feet
Avg Time One Way 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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, Apr, May, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:51am - 6:00pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
ATV Heaven
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Trail 103 accesses off of Westside Rd, the main artery for ATV activity in the midlevel of the Sacramento Mountains. Plan on seeing a number of these four wheel adventures out and about on any given weekend. Fortunately, only the upper portion of this trail provides access for ATVs. The lower section moves through the drainage and blocks out all vehicles. Shortly after taking off from FR 90 (Westside Road) T103 makes a sharp right and continues steadily downhill thru scrub pine and juniper following a rough and rocky old jeep trail. This section affords great distant views of Hershberger Peak across the canyon... the highest point in the frontal range.

The trail opens into a broad grassy meadow and the trail appears to end, but follow the upper edge of the meadow around to the right and you will pick up the track as it exits the meadow on the north end. The missing section is really simply heavily obscured with deadfall.

The trail drops down to the canyon bottom, joining and intermittent and seasonal creek. You may follow the creekbed on down canyon, or better, follow the faint trail up a slight incline, rejoining the stream in about 1/2 mile. The trail will soon give way to rocky streambed, and the rest of the hike consists of working your way down the rough and rocky drainage. Just over 3 miles down canyon the trail does leave the creekbed on the left to traverse a dry waterfall, but it is also possible to work your way down and through that obstacle.

T103 ends with it's intersection with Alamo Canyon Trail (T104) at the juncture of that major drainage. You have the option of looping back up T104 to Westside Rd, or continuing down T104 to it's trailhead down in Alamogordo (2.1 miles down drainage)... or, completing the hike by hiking back up canyon on T103.

You also have the very demanding option of hiking up the ridge to the south, connecting with the Pipeline Maintenance Trail on top of the ridge. The logical place to complete that connection is back up canyon in the area where the trail dropped into the rocky drainage. There is an old pipeline and the remnants of an access road, impossibly steep, that may be sighted and followed to the top.

Check out the Official Route.

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2009-05-04 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 of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Interesting day.

    Later start for this endurance hike to Alamo Peak... normally a 20+ mile effort with over 5,000' of AEG, depending on the route taken up and down. Brenda did great up until the final leg of T109... the steepness, altitude and accumulated effort hit her at about the point where lots of much younger hikers have chosen to turn back... she opted to continue on up to the top.

    At the top... totally fried... she opted to call a friend to pick her up... closing out the day without the 11 mile return hike down the mountain. Unfortunately, he did not answer... we began the downward leg... her energy was fine, and since the cardio demand was so low, no problem... until he did call her back. He would pick her up...

    ... but, now there was 1,000' of climb to reclaim, and that double over effort really killed her! But, she did it. We me her friend some miles later out on a major road. She got her downhill shuttle ride. She also got lots of uphill effort she was not fully trained up for. I did not score the AEG I wanted for the day, but I scored okay; I saved a few miles of downhill walking.

    It was an interesting day out.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Scheduled to just knock off the slightly more difficult Alamo Peak hike, but once up to West Side Road my mindset was drifting over to hit places I had yet to be... and I remembered that I still needed to finish peaking out on Stark Peak... so, right hand turn and I was off.

    The peak offered little new, but it was interesting in the potential for dropping off trail on the south side, hitting yet another unexplored area: the upper canyon in the Alamo drainage. On the way down I became sidetracked with some game trails that looked to offer access out to the far end of the Stark Peak ridgeline. That failed to work out... I backtracked and descended to the huge upper meadow area and began looking for a good drop in point to the gully.

    The canyon drainage in that area is a narrow, deep slit. 12' deep... dirt. Walking down in the gully there was a transition to rock walls... very odd rock walls... then waterfall drops! It stayed very interesting all the way down to where the official trail crossed the canyon bottom... by then, the narrow defile was over, along with all of the neat downclimbs. It switched over to a narrow stream section which continued all the way down to where the official trail connected with the canyon at the old mine site.

    So, it was a few thousand feet less elevation gain than planned for the day... and a lot more off trail, full body workout. It was more fun.

    For some reason, this year I seem to need that extra push that comes with exploratory hikes. They energize and motivate.

    I knew my Monday hike would be well above the level of a resting day hike, so less today was just fine.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    twelve hour day meant dark to start and dark to finish... end of day would have been lighter but the cold front finally hit; the thick cloud bank blocked out the western horizon. Was sort of shooting for an 8,000' day, but we added in some steep off trail and an additional peak... and, I was not strong on the steeper uphill sections... so, bigger days maybe later? Yubao and Timmy seemed to be enjoying the route except for my too frequent rest breaks. Even in the cooler temps I sweated out way too much fluids... drank over a gallon of OJ and electrolyte fluids on the hike and a full gallon of chocolate milk immediately after the hike... not sure what was going on. At my age I can't complain about logging this day, but I expect a bit more that has yet to translate through for higher performance. Guess I'll keep plugging away.

    It was a fun day out, and descending Alamo Canyon was exceptionally nice this time around.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Off trail to Alamo Peak!

    ;) Well, that went better than I thought it might! ;)

    After not being able to make it up 800 feet on a clear trail on Friday, the thought of 5,000' of off trail bushwhacking had me thinking about calling the day off. I rested Saturday... and awoke this morning not knowing what to expect. Yubao was at the trailhead just after 5:30am and we headed up canyon. I was very conservative about our pace and stopped often for hits of food and fluid. The easy pace made for a great a morning... we climbed out of the canyon proper and enjoyed breakfast at the rock house mine site. From there I knew I wanted to head north to catch the ridge and follow it up and around, but I had not loaded any routes into the GPS. So, we hiked up to the mine site, then angled slightly north from there... until we didn't.

    I caught a series of broken elk trails that looped us more and more south... much more south than I thought. Our target peak: 9300'. We topped out at 8700'+ on a peak south and west of our target. South!!!

    So... dropping off that peak, we descended and began the re-climb... and added in a loop around the north side of the mountain, just because I knew we could catch an old logging road to make for an easier finish to the Observatory. Even with all of that diversion, we enjoyed lunch on the peak ahead of schedule.

    We'd planned to do the 104 trail down the mountain, but I was feeling good and suggested that we use another route home... it would add to our already added to elevation gain and show Yubao a new stretch of hiking. It would also give him a shot at yet another mini-peak plus a very interesting descent. He liked the mini-peak. He could have done without the descent. (I am yet to find anyone who likes climbing down the mesa cliffs on the city water line... go figure?)

    I'd stashed a half gallon of chocolate milk at the base of the pipeline as we passed it hiking in... I'd finished off my gallon of fluids about an hour earlier and was feeling the need for some wet and some calories. It hit the spot with 2.5 miles to go... at that same spot Yubao spotted a nice 35# rock he liked. Since my pack had plenty of space with the water all gone, it only seem reasonable to load me up. He did. I closed out the very nice day enjoying a nice pack weight augmentation.

    Just missed the sunset... but caught the red glows around us on the upper canyon walls. A very good day!
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    A planned exploratory up to the top of the Steamboat formation got re-routed because of rain... we hiked up Alamo Canyon but instead of heading up Deadman for the planned hike, we stayed in the easier route, hoping for a change in the weather. Heading up Caballero the drizzle persisted, so detoured into Caballero North, then made an exploratory left turn up into Hell Hole Canyon. I've intended to check this one out for years. Today would be the day.

    Expectations were high. Overshadowed by the dramatic ridge of Devils Backbone I had visions of bedrock cliffs and falls. What we got instead: easy walking gravel. At the entry there was some nice strata, but for the most part the sidewalls were 30-50' tall sedimentary deposits... precarious piles of impending dirt and gravel. Finally, we scored a great section of sculptured, multi-tiered falls... a section good enough to make the canyon worth the effort.

    Choosing the split closest to towards the backbone, we exited the bottom of the canyon and worked our way up a steep side ridge, to the base of the backbone formation... then began the tedious process of finding a slot that would let us ascend. Close, but no exit... the wet/muddy rock was a bit too challenging. I'd spotted an access point at the far end of the backbone from down lower, so we made our way across and up, ascending the old tailings pile from the abandoned copper mine. That put us on to Hell Hole Trail, and into deep mud! Soon we were on to "A" trail and out of the mud... and to a touch of sunlight for our meal of the day. Down "A"... checking out a portion of the new Ortega Peak trail... then, the long trudge through town back to our cars... even diverted to city streets; Yubao's boots had killed the bottom of his feet; pavement felt better than dirt!?

    So, not the exploratory Hike I had planned... but very nice day on the trail. I need to go back when it is dry and check out the other forks, maybe find a route up to Hershberger Peak?
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Interesting to lead a Meetup Group up canyon for a moderate level day hike... nice folk, and the day may have served to give them a taste of the potentials for showing up for the canyoneering hikes coming up over the next few months... or not! They did good... hopefully, they had a good time.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Very interesting outing. Plan was to do an exploratory up into Hell Hole Canyon... but, Yuboa showed up, so decided to go up into the Traverse to salvage some old elk bones. Alas, the bones were long gone, but I did find my jacket lost 3 years ago! From the old mine site above Hell Hole, we decided to loop over and descend Caballero Canyon North... another long delayed exploratory canyon route. Got lucky on the descent into the drainage; easy trail down through the upper gorge waterfall... then it got interesting. The gurgling brook continued to gurgle. The bottom of the canyon was a deep V cut, overgrown and often water filled, but the general canyon bottom was shelved out, replete with small meadows and surrounded by a variety of hardwood trees. Initially, we followed a nicely developed game trail, then surprisingly, an old bulldozed road bed. City of Alamogordo had cleared a route and buried a water collection line feeding from the spring above west side road (FR 90). That meant an easy meander down and out of the canyon! In the lower section we could have dropped over into the narrow bottom, but instead chose to stick with the pipeline to confirm that it connected up with Trail 103 (Caballero Canyon Trail) up at the old concrete stockpond. Sure enough... I'd glanced down that old roadbed a couple of times over the years. It had never occurred to me that it would possibly work it's way around and over into the North Caballero Canyon drainage. This easy passage may open up the possibility for an all off trail route from Alamogordo up to The White Sands Observatory on Alamo Peak! 4400' to 9600'... starting with an open, dry canyon approach, then a narrow riparian stretch... then the hardwood forest section up to the cleft waterfall... from there up to the old road house mining site... into the pines and firs and ideally, ridging out to the Observatory... all off trail! Gotta try that out over the next week or so.

    Colors beginning to come on... sumac blazing red today.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Rock House Mine Trail
    Well, here is yet another trek I need to write up as a hike description. Walking up the higher end of one of the branches of Caballaro Canyon, above West Side Road... I wound up and through what was obviously once a broadly cleared area... now populated with small pine trees. Pushing through the barriers I found myself staring at a Rock Cabin... or the remains thereof. This was a nice cabin... some decades ago. Cement foundation, but walls of rock plastered with unstabilized mud. Large living area and two larger bedrooms... and a basement.

    After exploring the cabin area, I drifted further up canyon and realized I was walking on an old road bed... long eroded and covered with deadfall, but clearly an old route. It lead up, ending at a pit mine. Debris suggests final activity in the late 50's?

    Further up canyon were signs of day diggings. Where a huge fir tree had toppled over, it's root mass tearing a hole in the soil...someone had then continued to excavate out the area where the rootball had been. There were a number of these mini-mines scattered in the upper drainage.

    This is by far the most substantial of the human activity remains I've come across through my thousand of miles of wandering in these mountains... and, they are just minutes off the forest road!

    Not a great hiking day... but a great day.
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    wow... had to pack alpine gear for two on this trek. 50# pack slowed down the pace as did the trudging through the snow above 6500'. We made it up to around 8400' then a weather front began dumping snow on us... so, we turned around shy of the top of the mountain. It was great hiking in the blizzard; Unchip loved it. Turned out we had to run the final few miles trying to get out of the canyon before the rain settled in... not really in shape for that with the heavy pack yet. Great day. I had to skip Monday just to recuperate!
    Caballero Canyon Trail #103
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    Been hiking this trail for years, but this time added a bit extra that proved to make the hike a totally different experience. The Trailhead sits just below the gate to the military observatory for operations down in White Sands. It is fenced off, but the gate is an old fashion swing bar, with a Stop sign in the middle. It does not have any no-trespassing signs, so I slipped under the bar and walked up the road to the Geodesic Dome, and Wow! The Vista View is amazing, easily the best in the mountain range. So... if you are going to do this hike, make sure to venture on up for that view.

    Also added on an interesting augment on the way back to Alamogordo... hiked the lower Pipeline Road and followed the pipeline over the cliff and down into Alamo Canyon. Nice day.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Hiway 82 in Highrolls,NM take FR 90 (Westside Rd) 9.4 miles to the signed Trailhead marker (T103), turning in to your right to park. To access the lower end of the trail, you may use Trail 104, Alamo Canyon Trail to connect.
    page created by imike on May 04 2009 11:52 am
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