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Dry Canyon Trail #5574, NM

no permit
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Guide 0 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,360 feet
Elevation Gain 1,576 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,582 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.47
Interest Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
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, Mar, Apr, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Dry, then not so Dry...
by imike

This is a great winter time getaway hike, and one of the nicer routes to approach either Ortega Peak (7659') or Hershberger Peak (7850'... highest point in the frontal range). It is well possible to have the trail snowboound during the winter months, but at this lower elevation it would be rare for the snow to stay around for long, and most likely it will only be a few inches thick, just adding a bit of accent to the hike.

The trail follows Dry Canyon effectively to it's upper end, in the bottom mileage following directly in or near the canyon bottom drainage, then later moving up onto the sides of the canyon before climbing fully out at the end. It is an easy grade to enjoy, and the high use given over to ATV keeps the trails easy to follow. If you make a mistake it will likely be in the lower levels accidentally staying with the drainage bottom too long (which in itself makes for great off-trail trekking).

If your goal is Ortega Peak, it will come well into view on your right about three miles into the hike. You have the option of staying on Dry Canyon Trail which will pass the mountain, ending at Trail 119 ("A" Mountain trail) which can be followed up to the base of Ortega Peak... or, pick your route and head off trial directly up for Ortega from that earlier 3 mile orientation. You cannot get lost in this simple valley cut, but the off trail can be steep, rocky, and prickly. It is probably about as fast to put in the extra miles on trail.

Hershberger Peak is also hiked off-trail from the Trail 119...heading out about half mile past the junction with Dry Canyon Trail. Simply pick your spot and exit the trail to the left.

From the end of Dry Canyon Trail you have the option of turning around and hiking back the way you came, or adding on a nice upper loop on T5573 Upper Dry Canyon Trail, accessed off of T119. Follow T119 to the left for a short distance and turn onto T5573 to the left again. This trail will connect you with Dry Canyon Alternate Trail (T5574A). turning left once again and following it back down to intersect Dry Canyon Trail close to that 3 mile point. Both T109, and T5573 proceed to connect with Westside Rd (FR90) if taken to their ends.

Trail 5573: 2.5 miles
Trail 5574: 5.1 miles
Trail 5574A: 1.1 miles

Note: Trailhead elevation is taken from a direct read of the Topo Map... other sources list it as 5600'

Forest subject to closure for fire danger May and June.

Area great place to spot Elk, Deer and Turkey... along with the oft grazing cattle, horseback riders, ATV'r and the rare bike rider.

Check out the Official Route.

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

2009-05-14 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 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Interesting day. Luster had never checked out the Womack Mines, so we parked up on West Side Road with the intent of hiking over to and down Dry Canyon trail, to the unmarked Hell's Hole trail... then down and around to the mines. I'd planned on going off trail over to yet another system of mines to create a nice loop up and around to West Side.

    Arriving at the upper section of tailings, we discovered the heavy rains this season had placered out the side hill! Color everywhere. We gathered. I explored the upper mine entries. Dendretic rocks... Azurites... Copper... lots of fun rock! I filled my pack (brought the full frame... mistake?) and called the off trail section out of bounds. I knew I'd need the better footing and easier grades of the old mine roads.

    Before we headed up the hill had to do a bit of first aid... Luster drove the spike end of his pick through his hand...! :( ... and heavy storm started to roll in. We made it into the truck just as the rains hit. 50 Degrees!

    Home... weighed the pack: 91#!! So, got my leg workout.

    We need to go back... find Lusters rock hammer and finish checking out the other mine system!

    Good day...
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    I need to finish writing the trail descriptions for sections of this hike... then the linking could be completed! Bit muggy out... but a breeze did come up. I thought I would stay out longer but I did not pack enough fluids.

    Nice severe hop step down a ledge to land on the side of my foot... immediate and acute sharp pain, but a few limp around steps and I was right back to striding. So odd that a kayaking injury over 25 years ago leaves me with un-sprainable ankles!

    Just before the attack on my ankle, Spanish Dagger to my arm... and soon after: prickly pear jammed into my foot! Yet, mood was high... great day out. On a scale of 1 to 7,,, I'd give it a ten.

    I intend shorter, easier days.. but I also intend to not miss days and yesterday was distracted... delayed,,, then denied.

    Fun stuff,,,
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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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....
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Muggy... just not nice heavy humidity!

    I drove to the trailhead early, then decided to move over to something a bit easier and hopefully more interesting. I headed out n light rain wearing a parka, but immediately had to strip that off... just too oppressive in the dead air. Fortunately, the rain passed. Unfortunately, the dead air held on.

    I walked up to the Indian Wells, then decided to head up Lost Trail Canyon North, with the intent of checking out the North Spur. It had been years since I'd drifted up this cut. I'd never hiked the Spur.

    Very good choice; it was all good. The rock sculpturing was exceptional. The terminal dryfall included a nice staircase of rock to skirt the blockage on the right. The upper canyon held good, eventually giving way to the ridge that directly accessed the upper portion of Mineral Springs Trail.

    Later in the day I paid closer attention to the mountain biker's single track route below the Springs. I discovered a number of new sections; effectively, it provides an alternative to the sucky jeep road that is the official trail. Great find!

    So... I did not score the needed 8,000' AEg to stay on track for the month. I did manage to not just turn around and go home in response to the depressing weather. I scored some great hours out and about.

    Sun finally came out... light breeze teased the edges of comfort now and then.

    I be happy. :)
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Not sure where my brain was on the day... needed toe socks and shoe liners for this mileage; had neither. Very tender/sore feet by end of day. Very long day. Carried the weight augmented pack to ortega peak... then shed half the weight (25#) for the upper portion. Looped around and back up to the peak later in the hike, and added the 25# weight vest back into the adventure. I was beat up by the end of the day. Monday augmented hikes are only supposed to be 3-4,000' hikes with 10-12 miles. thinking I needed to play catchup on AEG motivated me to keep heading up the hill.

    Legs beat up and cramping in the evening... a bit worn out today. I'm not doing the planned remodel work but instead resting up for the planned Wednesday hike which is to be long mileage and bigger AEG. I still can't seem to bridge the 12,000' day mark. I'm effectively out of shape save for some strength and endurance aspects. No speed... no fluidity of movement.

    took a fall on Sunday... shelf I was standing on descending a small falls broke away. Major pain for such a minor injury. Felt torso wracked during this hike... still stiff today.

    Falling is just a part of off trail... need to get that across to the Meetup hikers.

    So... July begins!
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Not the earliest of starts, but early enough. Perfect temps as I climbed the "A" Trail... cool air was flowing down the hill and most of the ascent was nicely in shadow. Once above 8,000' the air was just cool, even in full sun. Part of that may have been the steady all day breezes?

    The crutch continues to slow the pace... what should have been a brisk 9 hours was closer to 12 hours.

    Descending, it remained cool and nicely breezy to below 6,000'. All in all... just a great day out.

    I hit Ortega Peak going and coming... no way to double log on the links?

    Big, fluffy Thunderheads piling up over the mountain as the day ended... must have been great in the shade up of top!
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    There may have been more AEG today... hard to track wandering off trail and up and down the ridges. I was tired from Sunday... slightly late start, but still out by 4:30am. Even the breeze was warm at the lower elevations! Record heat in the forecast for this week! Time to start freezing the water bottles! 20# weight augment today, mostly fluids. I get to go lighter tomorrow, but I have to mix in some pushups/setups over the course of the hike...? Gloves and a seat pad?

    Oven surround heat when the breeze died in the midafternoon final hours. Time for more dilute mixes in the drinks... and ice... lots of ice!

    I need to average 6700' per day. I had thought the way to do an easy 200,000' month would be to train way up... get up early and go fast on a clear, steep trail... get it over with before midmorning. Instead, I'm plodding out the miles with a crutch, scoring the AEG through applied hours of effort. Maybe I'll get to try that first approach in a month this Fall?

    Looking forward for this month to be over and done!
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Early start was lessened by too little sleep... I'd planned to log longer hours but I couldn't reach the cached water on Ortega Peak, so I headed back down early. Ran into Jim just above the trailhead; he was just headed out at noon, up into the heat I was happy to be getting out of.

    More sleep... more fluids... longer hours: all goals for JUne?
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    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.


    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.
    Dry Canyon Trail #5574
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    Saturday Training loop
    Drove over an hour early for this posted hike... and Brenda showed up right after I arrived! We enjoyed an interesting loop, including the mud and snow over in Dry Canyon. Ortega Peak nice... weather great... nice interlude with a small herd of elk on the north side of Hershberger Peak (Brenda thought she heard water running... I stopped and noted it was Elk passing below us through the snow... and sure enough, they soon emerged, rounding into the ridge/canyon at the top of Marble Canyon North.

    We stopped at the Fissure for awhile (likely longer down time than I noted) then took an end of day break at the old Gold Mine.

    These progressive Saturday training hits are about to step up into all day affairs with starts in the dark... oh, well!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Alamogordo, drive up Hiway 82 towards Cloudcroft,NM... halfway between MilePost 5 and 6, turn right, crossing the cattle guarded break in the fence. Drive down the hill and proceed straight on the rough, rutted dirt road. You will reach it's end just past some old corrals within less than half of a mile. The roadway is blocked... the continuing track is Trail 5574.
    page created by imike on May 14 2009 2:25 pm
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