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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.

Mesa Loop Trail, NM

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16 19 0
Guide 19 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
Rated
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0 of 5 by 0
 
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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Multi-Loop 13.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,538 feet
Elevation Gain 2,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 31
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
24  2015-01-10
Alamo Gap
imike
1  2014-11-20
Picnic Canyons
imike
32  2014-11-20
Picnic Canyons
imike
32  2013-11-30
Pock Rock Canyon
imike
35  2012-11-11
Marble Canyon - South
imike
12  2010-11-20
Marble Canyon - South
imike
16  2010-11-03
Hershberger Ridge
imike
20  2010-02-20
Marble Canyon - South - North Spur
imike
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:39am - 5:00pm
Route
 
0 Linked
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Hershberger Peak via RockaChucky Wash
0.0 mi away
5.4 mi
3,750 ft
The Mesa via the Cleft
0.1 mi away
1.5 mi
1,550 ft
Scenic Drive - Alamogordo
0.2 mi away
5.0 mi
150 ft
Dome Cut...The Stairway
Dome Cut...The Stairway
0.4 mi away
2.5 mi
1,005 ft
Quiet Canyon
Quiet Canyon
0.6 mi away
1.5 mi
450 ft
RockaChuckey Wash
0.6 mi away
3.3 mi
2,160 ft
Cascades Canyon
Cascades Canyon
0.8 mi away
1.0 mi
1,340 ft
Cabrito Canyon
0.9 mi away
1.0 mi
325 ft
Prominent Point
0.9 mi away
1.0 mi
1,000 ft
Desert Foothills Park
0.9 mi away
1.5 mi
110 ft
[ View More! ]
Can't Get There From Here...
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Really, the Mesa Loop Portion of the hike is just 5.5 miles of easy walking around the edge of The Mesa, but because of the very limited access, and difficulty of the approaches for this hike, the hike has to include the eight miles of approach and retreat, all roughly off trail...

Mesa Loop Trail


The start to this hike is obvious... the jeep rutted track heading straight up the hill is the simple and straightforward beginning. Hike up to it's end below the prominent outcropping on the right, then continue on up to the next cliffed out prominence. At this point you will have reached the extent of all the local's efforts; for the rest of the hike you will be on your own, moving steeply up and around to gain access to The Mesa. The easier route lie around to the south, but it is all off trail; none of it is easy. Fortunately, RockaChucky Wash provides an interesting and relatively simple route up and through the cliffs. You may drop into this wash after reaching the top of that second prominence, then move down and to the south, dropping into the drainage bottom.

Once up and onto the Mesa, enjoy the broad expanse as you move ever higher, either wandering around the edges or heading for the high ridge peak ( Little Peak: 6548') that divides the lower and upper Mesa sections. The Mesa Loop rambles around the perimeter of the Mesa. The Mesa is really a peninsula with cliff surrounds on all three sides, tilted at an angle such that the lower point is in the 5800' elevation and sloping such that the upper eastern portion lies closer to 6400'. The peninsula is divided by a prominent ridge system running down the middle, separating the eastern and western plateaus, and providing some nice vantage points to oversee the lower bowls and basins.

This area is a popular grazing and bedding grounds for elk and deer, characterized by desert grasslands with numerous "cedar break" clusters of juniper, and some interesting sotol forests, along with the usual prickly pear, creosote, and assorted high desert flora.

Lots of very sharp volcanic rock stratas... nice to have gloves along on this hike.

The best way to experience the Loop Route is to first hike to Little Peak. Once oriented from that higher vantage point, drop down and do the loop around the smaller meadow to the southeast, just skirting the edges of the cliffs all the way around that end of the mesa, ending back on the north side of Little Peak. That loop takes about a mile and offers some great views of Alamo Canyon.

Next, from the eastern end of the ridge, at the Pass, cross over to the north side and follow the Mesa cliff edges around to the western end, overlooking Marble Canyon with some distant hints of Sierra Blanca. This portion of the Mesa is really a narrow band, with the Little Peak ridge cutting much closer to the cliffs. At a bit over a mile from the Pass you will intersect the cliff cut for Goat Springs trail, an obvious and cairned cleft, and the only traditional route to The Mesa. Private property closures down below now prohibit access along this route.

At a bit over 1.5 miles you will reach the northwest point of The Mesa, and turning back to the south, begin to cliff wind around the frontal portion. This section moves along the edge of the very prominent cliff faces that are seen from down in Alamogordo.

In just over another mile you will be back to the RockaChucky Wash cut, and begin your traverse of that drainage basin, eventually angling around and to your right out onto a portion of the Mesa that is really another ridge peninsula running out to the southwest. The Mesa portion is that area lying above the 6,000' level. If you follow the ridge further it will drop elevation sharply and carry you out onto Half Dome Ridge.

Continuing around the edge of the cliffs winds you back to the Pass, at mile 4.6. If you have done the southeast loop first, you will now have logged about 5.5 miles of Mesa, plus the 3.5-4 miles of approach hiking. Mileage and elevation will be sharply impacted by the exact routes you choose. There are few real trails. All of the Mesa is easily walkable. For those odd folk who love the feel of cliff edges, enjoy! You can be cliffed out for nearly all of those 5+ miles. Personally, I enjoy the path that sets in from the edge by at least a few feet. Both are available.

Once back at the Pass, a pleasant route is to hike the .3 miles back up to Little Peak, then following the ridge back above the RockaChucky Basin, descending at the end of the ridge to return via RuckaChucky Wash. That ridge walk is just under a mile. It will be a bit over 3 miles back to your car. You will likely hike around 13-14 miles before your Mesa day is done. AEG will also vary, depending on your route selections, but there are numerous up/down options. Doing the loop will likely log in 800-1000' to add to your 2,000' gain from the car... and then there are some up/downs traversing RockaChucky. It will likely feel like 3500'... and might be, or more.

You may want to print out the specifics of the RockaChucky Wash trail to compliment this hike description.

Most of The Mesa is surrounded by cliffs that do not allow egress. Do not make the mistake of trying to go over the edge at just any spot. If you do want to work your way down, use the two or three safer points. You can come down the cut for Goat Springs then work your way around the base of the cliffs to the south, returning directly to your car, but take care. Plan your route before attempting to descend.

Because of the slower progress accessing the Mesa, if you are doing the entire Loop, you may want to plan to start your day early and head down with plenty of time to spare to make it back to your car. This is off trail hiking... you won't get lost, but you do not want to be stranded up there after dark.

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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    Follow Scenic drive to it's far southern end (at the water tank) and loop back north 1/8 mile, parking at the dirt road neading off to the east. Look up to the mountains noting the jeep track cutting sharply uphill... that is your route. Follow the dirt track to that jeep trail, or simply walk a beeline across the scrub desert to the base of the jeep road.
    page created by imike on Feb 16 2010 6:39 pm
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