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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.

Aquaduct Ridge, 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 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,137 feet
Elevation Gain -1,500 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack No
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   May, Sep, Aug, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:51am - 6:02pm
0 Alternative
Why Go!?
by imike

Likely In-Season!
There are more reasons not to do this hike than to do it... primarily because it follows the newer water pipe line that supplies Alamogordo, and effectively you are simply walking along a bulldozed out roadway for most of the hike. It is fun to sit on the ice cold metal pipe to catch a bit of cooling effect, but that has limited overall joy. One reason in favor of this route is the possibility of using it as a shortcut return loop from the two canyon hikes on either side of it: Alamo Canyon or Caballero Canyon, but really, why not just loop down through one of them?

If it happens to be a colder, wintry day and you desire a fully sunexposed ridge hike with no challenge in regards to route finding... then, perhaps that is the right hike for such a day. It does offer nice perspective views of the two adjacent canyons on either side, and for a touch of variety and additional challenges, there are three ridge peaks just off the road that can add a touch of adventure and extra workout. The tallest of these, Stark Peak, rises to 7340', depending on the route off trail chosen, might add 400-600' of additional climbing to the hike. The lower prominent point stands at 6120'... this unnamed high point affords great 360 degree views down on the far west end of the ridge, just before the trail begins it's final drop to the edge of the mesa. The third point lies between the two... might as well hit it as well and turn the day into a mini-peak bagging session.

One of the best reasons for this route to be listed here is to correct any misconception about there being a through trail off the west end of this route, over the side of the mesa and down into Caballero Canyon. There is not. If you've studied the MYTOPO map and taken note of that nice little trail connection on down to T103... well, it's not really there. That 300' drop over the edge can be done, but it will be offtrail, and over and through a variety of sharp and biting desertscape, not the least of which here is the rock itself. Nasty stuff!

That is not to say you cannot make it down... you can, I did. I chose to take the first drainage around on the north side back from the point of the ridge. This was a rock lined cataract, that if it was not for all the over grown shrubs and trees obscuring the way, I would have classified as the most fun part of the hike. But, of course, it is not part of the hike; Aquaduct Ridge trail/road ended up on top. You could also likely simply follow the pipeline itself down the side.. it looks doable.

So... the trail is there... the little peaks are there... the cold pipeline is there. If you have to, go check it out.

From the trailhead up on Westside road you will be following the path common to trail #104 for the first 2 miles. T104 turns off the roadway to the left at that point, you continue straight and on up the hill.

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

2009-10-15 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
    Aquaduct Ridge
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    First of the longer, progressive Saturday training hikes over and done!

    Though posted on the Calendar, this is not one of the hikes I really want anyone to show up for. If they are in shape and trained up I am probably going at a too slow pace to be of much benefit to them. If they are not trained up enough to be ready for this level of effort it will not turn out well for anyone.

    I noticed that today I hit the peak well before the time typical with other hikers along... and I'd altered the route early in the day to add on extra AEG before the push to the peak. So, over an hour early and with an extra 1200'+ already scored.

    I had rushed the prep for the hike. I did not pack any food. I decanted a gallon of non-fat chocolate milk, a quart of vitamin water and 16 oz 80 calorie energy drink. I was guessing at an 11 hour effort with 200 calorie an hour intake to catalyze fat metabolism... sort of a plan.

    Not exactly an early start, but with the longer days I felt okay with that. I hit the trail at 6:38am. Around 7:30 I popped open the Energy drink to break fast (a couple hours early for me!)

    Slow pace... lower energy.

    I noticed that once I'd begun drinking I was tending towards a fairly steady intake; I refilled one of the Quart containers at the high spring below the peak.

    Early to the peak I wandered off trail and found a place in the sun and out of most of the wind (high gusts today! 40 mph!) I realized I needed to slow my pace; get into a more casual mindset for the day, so I dug to the bottom of the pack and pulled out a MRE and a bottle of spicy peanuts. I took the time to enjoy the food pack (... the 1200 calories were likely not a bad idea, either. That and the 500+ calories from the peanuts likely made sense on this longer/harder day.)

    I decided to loop longer, kicking off this series with 25 miles and 7000'. The next effort will go to 30 miles with at least as much AEG. The time and mileage is the emphasis for the coming months; every other Saturday.

    Fluids did run out. I also was worrying about potassium intake (... brain dead! forgot the milk would score over 6,000! I cramp up in the evening after the hike if fluid/potassium intakes have been too low).

    So, home sucking down an additional half gallon of vitamin water... listening to the wind howl.

    A good day!

    Odd to reflect on the perspective of being "in shape". I feel i have a long way to go to reach that condition. I'm still 20 pounds away from hitting event weight. All my training is at a too slow pace. I'm probably two months away from being able to do a fifty mile day with any ease. At age 50 I went out without training and did 53 miles in 11 hours and 20 minutes. That day included 8,000' AEG. At age 60 I managed a 50 mile day with 19,000' either of those standards I am not yet back in good shape. Then again... by most everyone else's standard, for age 65 I should be more than happy with what I've can do. So Odd.

    Good Pictures today... new computer on the way... finally might be able to catch up with the editing and posting?
    Aquaduct Ridge
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    Pyramid Peak via Pipe Springs
    Wednesday... the day to meet up with hiking partners to enjoy "A" trail. Today I thought it would go to Ortega Peak, but Terri canceled out. I still headed up at 6am, but instead of continuing to the top I looped back down to see if Unchip might show up at her old time. Another no show. Instead of heading back up the hill, I decided to head over to Alamo Canyon and redo Roundup Cliffs from the lower trailhead, then see if there really was a good route up to Pyramid Peak.

    It was an interesting day. I made sure I had enough fluids along (did not want a repeat of last Friday!) 168 oz... should do the job.

    The cliffs portion was great... I took the time to more carefully document the various highpoints and to document the side canyons flowing into Alamo Canyon (more exploratory hikes to do!) I think I'll add the Cliffs trail into my maintenance schedule... it is a great route; nice to have some of the trail slightly improved.

    Dropping down into the upper portion of Alamo Canyon I crossed up to the bench where Lower Pipe Springs flowed. I waded through the cattle... and once at the tank began to look up canyon for the game trail I'd spotted last week. My eye caught on a cattle track moving around and out of the canyon, but with an upward angle. Checking it out, I discovered it did go up... instead of steeply climbing towards the cliffs like the game trail in the canyon, it gave a softer loop around and out of the canyon, then over and back into the canyon... above the cliffs! It was an easy walk into the canyon proper, then across and out the other side. Once onto the lower ridge slopes I intersected the water pipe that carried flow from Upper Pipe Springs down to Lower Pipe Springs. The route became very easy from that point on: follow the ABS pipe!

    At the springs I intersected the roadway that is Aquaduct Ridge Trail... and took it over to Pyramid Peak. On top of the peak I enjoyed the panoramic views... and took ten shots with my camera that together would form a 360 presentation.

    So... there was a good route to the Ridge... and it did start where I thought after spotting the game trail... it simply was not what I thought it would be... it was better.

    I looped back to the truck along the bottom of Alamo Canyon... shooting pictures of the mouths of all the side canyons... thinking about hitting each of those over the coming month. It just stays good.

    Drank all of the fluids plus another 75 oz once back home!

    GPS Stuff:

    T104 Trailhead...(4650')
    .64 mile T107 Trailhead (4836')
    1.08 mile Roundup Cliff Bench (5162')
    1.40 mile Falls (5285')
    2.34 mile T103/T104 (5510')
    2.80 mile High point (5546')
    2.94 mile High point (5581')
    3.00 mile T107/Cliffs (5550')
    3.29 mile T107 Trailhead (5364')
    3.35 mile Lower Pipeline Springs (5390')
    3.86 mile Upper Pipeline Springs (5690')
    4.45 mile Pyramid Peak (6140')
    Aquaduct Ridge
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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!
    Aquaduct Ridge
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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 HighRolls on hiway 82 (between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft) take Westside Road (FR90)south, 10.1 miles, to a gate blocking off an access road on your right... Park anywhere under the overly large trees clustered around this old homestead site. Your route is that roadway blocked by the gate.
    page created by imike on Oct 15 2009 12:44 pm
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