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Marble Canyon - South, NM

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Guide 4 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
Rated
4
4 of 5 by 1
 
0
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 1
Grade1
WaterA
Risk
Time
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 3.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,624 feet
Elevation Gain 2,300 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,380 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.03
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Water
Desert Gem!!
by imike

After years of glancing over and down into the Marble Canyon drainages, I finally decided to check them out. I chose the southern most cut for the first hike. I was expecting to find a generally flat sand and gravel wash wallow, terminating in a very steep and overgrown upper end... generally open and lacking in diversity.


I was entirely wrong!

The mouth of the canyon is cluttered with housing development; folks aspiring to enjoy the exceptional setting for their private benefit. That is part of the distraction that kept me away from this area for the last three years. Once past the houses the canyon immediately gets interesting. There is an old rock quarry mine on the left with the odd assortment of giant slabs scattered here and there. You keep to the right (south) as the wide open expanses begins to narrow, decorated with a variety of rock formations and jutting cliff edges with glimpses of the towering line of cliffs far up to the right; the edges of the Mesa peninsula.

Winding around, with each corner turned offering ever more interesting variety of textures and shapes, the canyon is pleasantly surprising... and then even more so as it narrows to mere yards, then feet... a mini-slots section replete with a running spring with seeping springs dripping down the smooth rock walls. These form the first of many waterfall formations that characterize this hike. Oddly enough, each mini-climb is different. There are house size boulders to maneuver around. There are stair step striated layers to walk up. There are slick rock, smoothly rounded defiles to climb. There are rock jumbles obscuring the path... the variety and number of interim obstacles are too many to name.

Eventually, as you climb ever higher, there begin to be more and more solid rock slabs to walk, finally getting to a pot holed section with numerous "tinaja" pools... dry or wet, depending... then, the slabs tend to tilt at a much steeper uplift, and the waterfalls begin to pose a bit more of a challenge to scale. It is possible that for many hikers, the lower sections of these slabs would make a good termination point for this hike. To go higher may require a dedication of blood sacrifice, both by flora and rock structure... yet, it is worth the effort.

The final drainage obstacle, the Amphitheatre, lies obviously above, shutting off all access with it's overhanging rock ledges. This is the end of the canyon hike... all that is, except for getting back down!

Note: You may proceed on up to Hershberger Peak or over and down to The Mesa... simply move to your right, working around the end of the obstructing rock formation and on over and up to the adjacent ridge... from there, up to the peak or down to the Mesa.

Note: If you are just in the area for a short time, do this hike as your last for the visit. If you are here for just one day, and can only do one hike... this is the hike for that day. If you live in the area, save this hike for the one you do after you've done all the rest.

Check out the Triplogs.

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

2010-02-19 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 of 17 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beginners Hike had 16 hikers! One guy that was parked along the Aqua Duct just tagged along... I thought he was with one of the other hikers... no food or water, but he made the hike. Lynda turned around a bit early and got to enjoy the hike out solo... and really liked that. She never gets to do solo outings. We talked about a group hike whereby I stop and drop folks off in sequence, then at a set time, everyone starts walking out. If I've spaced them correctly... everyone gets a "solo" exit? I may give that pattern a try in the Fall?

    Energy a bit better today... feels like it will be a long time getting back into shape!
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beginners Hike had 16 hikers! One guy that was parked along the Aqua Duct just tagged along... I thought he was with one of the other hikers... no food or water, but he made the hike. Lynda turned around a bit early and got to enjoy the hike out solo... and really liked that. She never gets to do solo outings. We talked about a group hike whereby I stop and drop folks off in sequence, then at a set time, everyone starts walking out. If I've spaced them correctly... everyone gets a "solo" exit? I may give that pattern a try in the Fall?

    Energy a bit better today... feels like it will be a long time getting back into shape!
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Progressive Canyon Series highlight had 15 hikers show... but the group was split up a few miles up canyon... Dog Problem. So, I lead a couple of the hikers down and out and then did Goat springs Canyon. The main group did make it up, down and out. Have to think about extending the series for a couple more months??
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Exploratory up the Amphi Cut spur canyon... nice! ...and, there appears to be a potential for looping over and down a steep bit of bedrock... need to check that out from below up Marble South. Ross is slowly getting further and further up this drainage! Should have nice pics of the day... but now have to set up to lead the Sunday Afternoon Beginners outing... nice if I can find folks to cover that hike...
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    exploratory for ridge route to the peak... much nicer ascending west end of ridge, cutting across middle north canyon... climbing the north ridge... we descended potential spur trail along Hershberger Ridge South to the Narrows in Marble South...

    spotted yet another canyon in Marble North (Shadow?)...

    Very nice loop... Ross enjoying all of this?
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We were scheduled to hike Quarry Canyon, but Will had just completed that loop on Sunday... so, up yet another one of the exceptional Marble Canyon drainages: the Best: Marble South!

    We moved up and into the narrows and Will immediately realized the aesthetics and settings just took an acute notch up... and as always, around every turn was more of that better stuff. We hiked the introduction section up to the end of the Beginner's section at the bedrock falls/slab.

    At that point, we reversed and hiked back to the north spur... headed up that to the huge blocking Dryfall... then reversed yet again, this time traversing the ridge using the staircase (bedrock walkway with a steep but moderate track)...crossing the ridge we waded through the flowers down into Surprise Canyon (Marble Middle South)... and enjoyed our descent along what may be the best of the bedrock walkways.

    Both of us felt we'd been out for three hours... though six hours had passed! This loop is just that nice; you get lost in the moments. Time to give this over to the local hikers... it is on our Meetup Schedule for the next month.
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ready for a shorter, easier day... and that is what we scored. Once up to the blocking dryfall formation up the North Spur, we found an interesting bedrock cleft to escalate our way to the north ridge...and over into the Marble Middle South canyon... right at the nice mid section.

    Ross had not done either of these canyons and I'd never descended the Middle South. We were both impressed; that is one great canyon. I did not take the time to notice just how exceptional the one other time I'd hiked up it. Not sure how I could have missed it. So... down and out for a much easier day. I nearly tagged on Quarry canyon for an additional 1800'; I went home and napped instead!

    Longer tomorrow!
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Sunday Meetup hike with two other hikers. More should have taken advantage of this early morning outing... we made it back before the heat set in... that is just a nice area to be out playing in. Paul turned around eaarly... Linda made it up to the nice dryfall; her first visit to this canyon.

    good outing.
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    15 hikers started the day out... time constraints thinned Terri's Friday hiking group down to 11 by the time we reached the very nice turn around point 2.5 miles up the canyon at the impressive stairstep falls formation.

    There was some discussion about the route possibly being more difficult than my description suggested, since I'd used that word "easy". Of course, when I called it Marble Canyon, Short and Easy... I was really thinking in the comparative... I need to quit doing that... thinking!

    By the end of their outing everyone seems to have appreciated the rewards of their efforts; they did great!

    Since Leah had driven over from Las Cruces and was spending the night to score tomorrow's hike up Dog Canyon... I offered to show her some more of the area... and the Quarry was right there. Up and through the Quarry... into and up Quarry Canyon to the old gold mine... over and up the "A"... then, thinking about my longer, harder training hike tomorrow I figured we should stop and call it a day at the Fissure.

    This interesting cleft/rift formation cuts through the "A" Ridge, yet goes mostly unnoticed, even though it runs right next to the trail. Sitting on top and gazing down into the cut inspires thoughts of slot canyons. The mouth to the fissure runs from the Marble Spur: Grotto Canyon, N1... a short distance to the south. It is fiercely overgrown... such that through the years I've never taken the trouble to really enter the formation. I would eventually... with lopping shears and rope!

    Today, I walked around and down... then into the tangled mass... then noticed a hidden ledge that could carry us above and into the formation. Passing all the entry obstructions we came to a low cave entrance...Leah moved into the lead and crawled into the opening. It quickly gave way to the open topped cut... and to a steeply descending fallaway! We moved a short distance further to note that it continues to descend!

    We are coming back with rope and more time... but since Leah is the first of our group to enter, we may have a new name for the formation: Leah's Lair! She's coming back with Leopard skin leotard for the exploratory photo shoot! :)

    I cannot believe I left my camera topside with my pack; missed all shots of our first trip into this special space...

    All in all, just a massively fun day!

    I added a touch more up/down to round out the training aspect for the day... trying to keep it progressive!
    Marble Canyon - South
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was my 2nd canyoneering hike, the previous being Ortega Canyon a week back. I was surprised by the variety of rock formations hidden in the canyon. While I wouldn't feel comfortable yet doing this hike solo, I found the climbing relatively easy, with the exception of the occasional loose rock here and there to keep you on your toes, or back ;) As for negatives, there was about 20 minutes of scrambling through brush and cactus before reaching the crest near Hershberger peak that I wasn't to fond of. The view at the top was worth the scramble though, not to mention the views from inside the canyon on the way up. Definitely worth the effort.

    Oh, don't worry about the ankle Mike it's fine. Thanks for leading a fun hike, I discovered some trails back there I didn't know about. Also, I just used your AEG and mileage since I didn't have a gps with me.

    Permit $$
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    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    You have two options for parking: the first, proceed to the upper eastern end of 10th street and park at the small city park by the fire station... then walk to the southeast towards the obvious canyon drainage. Or, follow 1st street to it's eastern end, entering the large city park, driving in as far as possible, and parking there (but, I think the fire station option is a safer bet. Either one will require you to walk up and across the large aquaduct canal to reach the canyon mouth.
    page created by imike on Feb 19 2010 7:26 am
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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