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Marble Canyon - South, NM

Guide 30 Triplogs  3 Topics
  4 of 5 
no permit
207 30 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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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
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2014-08-03
Marble Canyon - South - North Spur
8  2013-11-29 imike
35  2012-11-11 imike
12  2010-11-20 imike
16  2010-03-27 imike
38  2010-03-13 imike
20  2010-02-20
Marble Canyon - South - North Spur
5  2010-02-18 imike
Page 1,  2
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 71 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  4:56am - 7:16pm
0 Alternative

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.

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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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    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
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    help comment issue

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