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The Mesa via Marble Canyon, NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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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 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,614 feet
Elevation Gain 1,200 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time One Way 1-2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.83
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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 → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Not the easy, but the fun...
by imike

The Mesa remains the most readily available hiking area adjacent to Alamogordo, yet it also remains relatively unknown due to the lack of trail information and the off and on status of the trail accesses over the years. Traditionally, Goat Springs trail was the trail of choice, and now may once again become just that as the USFS has re-established the trailhead, suggesting that the private property access issues may be cleared up... still, with the development of the foothills housing along that trail, it is nice to have options.


Marble Canyon provides exactly the same starting point, but instead of hiking up and into the houses, you head up a very nice canyon. Instead of city views, you take in the winding canyon walls and far, high vistas of the Mesa, along with the gurgling springs in the Narrows.

Leaving the mouth of the canyon, hike in past the old rock Quarry on your left, then turn right into the south branch of the canyon.

Once you've worked your way through the Narrows, and ascended the first stairstep rock strata fall, look to your right and up... you'll be about 1.5 miles into your hike and around 5200' in elevation when you come to the obvious sculpted sidewall drainage... and nicely centered high above you will see the Goat Springs trail cut slicing up through the cliff walls onto the Mesa. This is your point of departure from the canyon bottom.

From here you go roughly up and off trail. Choose your poison... the jumbled mess in the two drainages headed straight up... or the side slopes just above either of those. The easier choice is to probably follow the right hand cut, moving up and in/out with the right hand shoulder of the drainage... then angling further around to the right as you near a saddle that will appear to carry you away from the cliff cut. You can continue straight on up, but it is easier and nicer to angle up and to the right, slicing towards the Goat Springs trail at a lower intersection. If you crest the saddle, then do turn up and towards the cliffs... you will eventually cross the trail. Take it back to your right and on up and over the cliffs to the Mesa proper.

This route is not for those backpacking, or looking for an easy walk... but, if you seek a bit more adventure in your day hike, and some nicer scenery, this is a pleasant alternative route. I like to use this drainage down into Marble Canyon when I am returning from doing the Mesa Loop trail, just for the added effort and views.

...and, if those private property access issue come up again... this is the simple alternative!

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

2010-02-20 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
    The Mesa via Marble Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    The Day was diverse...
    40%...70% chance of rain, with high temps in the 50's above 9,000'. We decided to stay below the major storms, and hit Goat Springs Trail (the old access point) to climb up onto the Mesa. From there, looped clockwise, climbing with nice overviews of the Marble Canyon drainage... peaks were obscured by the low hanging clouds. Umbrellas sufficed for the light rain during the first hours of the day.

    After looping to the south Mesa, and siting the various canyon and ridge potential hikes from there, we did a detour descent down Pock Rock canyon... neither Yuboa nor Karen had ever hiked the area, so I was trying to show them bits of a lot of different stuff. Karen had been avoiding coming over for any of my hikes (she'd heard odd rumors of crazy hard routes and too fast paces...?) and was apprehensive as the day began, but she fit right in. She was much impressed with the Pock Rock Gorge, even though it was full on rain by then and Parkas had replaced the umbrellas.

    We looped back around and up onto the Mesa after the canyon hit, then traversed over and down Rockachucky Canyon, exiting the ridge around on the trail from Prominent Point. Lots of hours. Lots of weather. Some spills, scrapes and blood... fun had by all!
    The Mesa via Marble Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    fun day up the canyon... got some more opinions about this hike from a couple of folks from ElPaso... everyone seemed to have a nice day out. Unfortunately, I have chicken pox and energy a bit off. (...this was probably not what was in mind with the bed rest suggestion?) I am sort of achy all over... and there is all that torso pain, but out on the trail it just feels normal. Guess I should take a few days off. Hopefully, this will not mess up my travel plans!
    The Mesa via Marble Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Finished checking out the southern gorge of Marble Canyon, ascending the north spur canyon. This one terminates at about the same altitude as the main south canyon, and with the same Amphitheatre rock roof structure... but, not the same canyons. This one is narrower, closed in and had a blockage water fall... 45-50'. Not that hard to work around, then numerous additional obstacles in a very closed in grotto like canyon section... and a nice, very long, very tilted rock slab. The Amphitheatre is really nicer than the south canyon feature, and the entire upper section is bowled in...

    ... instead of descending, I worked my way around the bowl and climbed out, following the ridge up and over to the south drainage, then on up to Hershberger Peak ridge, following it down to the Mesa... and the Mesa Loop track around to the Goat Springs trail cut... dropped down through the cliffs, exiting the trail and dropped down drainage back into Marble Canyon... hiking it back out. Weirdly enough, yet again a 9.5 hour day out the door.

    I think I'm ready for some on trail hikes. I noticed that my GPS unit was signing me out, thinking I was taking a break. In reality, I was just going too slow for it to notice the movement!

    So many canyons... so little time...

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    In Alamogordo, drive to the far eastern end of Tenth Street and park at the small city park next to the Fire Station. walk south and east over to the obvious canyon mouth and head on up the drainage. You can park all the way over at the mouth of the canyon, but the vehicle is probably more secure at the park.
    page created by imike on Feb 20 2010 8:23 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
    help comment issue

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