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.
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.
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