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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.

Hells Hole Trail #219, NM

no permit
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Guide 0 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
0 of 5 by 0
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,206 feet
Elevation Gain -195 feet
Accumulated Gain 7 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 0.52
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:52am - 5:59pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Save This Hike for Later!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Okay, this is an official National Forest Service trail...#219 as noted. "Why" is the question! This half mile road down onto the ridge above Hells Hole Canyon is the route to the old mine, and for some unknown reason has been bulldozed out again over the last year or so, making it a gaping and raw cut down the hillside. Perhaps they were dredging for dirt to fill the old mine; I do not know, but it is an insult to the area, and given that the start of the trail is tucked away from any reasonable starting point, and then goes to nowhere worth going to, it becomes questionable what the forest service was thinking. They should have rocked and bermed the accesses to keep ATV's out, and chopped the grade up in a fashion that would encourage regrowth of some of the native plants over time.

The local hiking guide does not address these issues; it focuses on the simple issue of the views to be had once down to the ridge line, labeling them the best to be found in the entire area. That statement is what eventually got me to head on down the hill, and I have to admit there is something outstanding about the vista. You look out over Hells Hole and up at Hershberger Peak and it is impressive. There is also a very odd greenish hue to the entire setting making it somewhat other worldly.

So, while the official trailhead is noted where the forest service started this spur, for any practical application you will need to hike either Dry Canyon trail or "A" trail to access that point. If you really just want to see this trail, drive west side road out of Highrolls to the upper end of "A" trail (#119) and walk in the three tenths of a mile to the trail junction with T5574 (Dry Canyon) heading off north, and T219 heading off to the south.

If you'd like to hike from Alamogordo, take "A" (#119) trail up to Ortega Peak, then over to Hershberger Peak, and as you descend east, you'll hit that same intersection with T5574 and T219... at about five miles. This route has the advantage of having the over 3,000' of climbing up "A" trail and will make the day worth doing.

If you are feeling adventurous and would like to have a great off trail experience, hike on past the end of trail sign on #219, over to the old mine works, and drop into the washed out drainage heading down to Caballero Canyon. Make your day into a nice looping event back to town. This Caballero/Hershberger Traverse route in the drainage to the east of Hells Canyon drainage is a gem of a hike.

Check out the Official Route.

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

2010-03-04 imike

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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
    Hells Hole Trail #219
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    Bit of a misunderstanding for our hike... Scheduled: Good Canyon Exploratory. Luster had a specific canyon near Womack Mines in mind... as good canyons! So, we shifted (Good has waited six years... it will still be there) and dropped into a ridge cut east of Womack immediately below West Side Road. Traversing over one cut, we passed up some exceptional rock and proceeded to drop down the drainage. I was thinking this might be the east split off the old Caballero Traverse; I'd never hiked that cut... might be nice to get it off the to-do list.

    Turns out this Cut dropped directly into North Caballero... nicely. Which would mean the one we crossed would also flow into same.

    We hiked the old waterpipe road around and down, eventually dropping back into the big canyon. We turned up my old Traverse route (soon to be renamed Womack Cut) and proceeded up to the Mine. Lots of interesting color... lots of too warm weather (what is with that!) Topping out at the old Mine works we spent time exploring the old tailings, both east and west side.

    The goal today on this loop: check out the rock ridge above the line of rocks holding the many shafts to the east. So... climbed the Hell Hole road to a high point then headed cross the ridge... and scored a fairly easy route that carried us across... to discover more shafts, but not developed all that much. One more check of this area to document all of the existing mines should close out the exploring in this area... although there remain 3-4 cuts to check below the mines.

    Scored really nice crystal copper flow stone(?)... Did not look the same at home! What is with that... need to post it online and see if folks can identify...

    Other than the warm... great hike!
    Hells Hole Trail #219
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    Interesting day. Luster had never checked out the Womack Mines, so we parked up on West Side Road with the intent of hiking over to and down Dry Canyon trail, to the unmarked Hell's Hole trail... then down and around to the mines. I'd planned on going off trail over to yet another system of mines to create a nice loop up and around to West Side.

    Arriving at the upper section of tailings, we discovered the heavy rains this season had placered out the side hill! Color everywhere. We gathered. I explored the upper mine entries. Dendretic rocks... Azurites... Copper... lots of fun rock! I filled my pack (brought the full frame... mistake?) and called the off trail section out of bounds. I knew I'd need the better footing and easier grades of the old mine roads.

    Before we headed up the hill had to do a bit of first aid... Luster drove the spike end of his pick through his hand...! :( ... and heavy storm started to roll in. We made it into the truck just as the rains hit. 50 Degrees!

    Home... weighed the pack: 91#!! So, got my leg workout.

    We need to go back... find Lusters rock hammer and finish checking out the other mine system!

    Good day...
    Hells Hole Trail #219
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    A planned exploratory up to the top of the Steamboat formation got re-routed because of rain... we hiked up Alamo Canyon but instead of heading up Deadman for the planned hike, we stayed in the easier route, hoping for a change in the weather. Heading up Caballero the drizzle persisted, so detoured into Caballero North, then made an exploratory left turn up into Hell Hole Canyon. I've intended to check this one out for years. Today would be the day.

    Expectations were high. Overshadowed by the dramatic ridge of Devils Backbone I had visions of bedrock cliffs and falls. What we got instead: easy walking gravel. At the entry there was some nice strata, but for the most part the sidewalls were 30-50' tall sedimentary deposits... precarious piles of impending dirt and gravel. Finally, we scored a great section of sculptured, multi-tiered falls... a section good enough to make the canyon worth the effort.

    Choosing the split closest to towards the backbone, we exited the bottom of the canyon and worked our way up a steep side ridge, to the base of the backbone formation... then began the tedious process of finding a slot that would let us ascend. Close, but no exit... the wet/muddy rock was a bit too challenging. I'd spotted an access point at the far end of the backbone from down lower, so we made our way across and up, ascending the old tailings pile from the abandoned copper mine. That put us on to Hell Hole Trail, and into deep mud! Soon we were on to "A" trail and out of the mud... and to a touch of sunlight for our meal of the day. Down "A"... checking out a portion of the new Ortega Peak trail... then, the long trudge through town back to our cars... even diverted to city streets; Yubao's boots had killed the bottom of his feet; pavement felt better than dirt!?

    So, not the exploratory Hike I had planned... but very nice day on the trail. I need to go back when it is dry and check out the other forks, maybe find a route up to Hershberger Peak?
    Hells Hole Trail #219
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    Very interesting outing. Plan was to do an exploratory up into Hell Hole Canyon... but, Yuboa showed up, so decided to go up into the Traverse to salvage some old elk bones. Alas, the bones were long gone, but I did find my jacket lost 3 years ago! From the old mine site above Hell Hole, we decided to loop over and descend Caballero Canyon North... another long delayed exploratory canyon route. Got lucky on the descent into the drainage; easy trail down through the upper gorge waterfall... then it got interesting. The gurgling brook continued to gurgle. The bottom of the canyon was a deep V cut, overgrown and often water filled, but the general canyon bottom was shelved out, replete with small meadows and surrounded by a variety of hardwood trees. Initially, we followed a nicely developed game trail, then surprisingly, an old bulldozed road bed. City of Alamogordo had cleared a route and buried a water collection line feeding from the spring above west side road (FR 90). That meant an easy meander down and out of the canyon! In the lower section we could have dropped over into the narrow bottom, but instead chose to stick with the pipeline to confirm that it connected up with Trail 103 (Caballero Canyon Trail) up at the old concrete stockpond. Sure enough... I'd glanced down that old roadbed a couple of times over the years. It had never occurred to me that it would possibly work it's way around and over into the North Caballero Canyon drainage. This easy passage may open up the possibility for an all off trail route from Alamogordo up to The White Sands Observatory on Alamo Peak! 4400' to 9600'... starting with an open, dry canyon approach, then a narrow riparian stretch... then the hardwood forest section up to the cleft waterfall... from there up to the old road house mining site... into the pines and firs and ideally, ridging out to the Observatory... all off trail! Gotta try that out over the next week or so.

    Colors beginning to come on... sumac blazing red today.
    Hells Hole Trail #219
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    I headed out to check out a little trail that I've always felt would be disappointing. It was. Fortunately, on the way over to it I hiked Ortega Peak and scored a nice outing. Then, standing on the ridge looking across and down into Caballero Canyon I noticed that the drainage below me was headed towards the upper meadows area of Caballero trail... and if it really would connect around that point would provide a great traversing route, avoiding the normal forest road walk to connect the frontal range trails.

    I headed on down.

    The way was strangely eroded, as if the mine activity and diverted water and the wash was gorged out as if placer mined... too deeply cut. Not natural. But, it stayed open with just minor over growth here and there. The dirt and loose rock gave way to slabs and mini-falls, then to sections for flat bottoms, broken by more mini-falls. It turned into it's own little canyon, complete with running springs, then stream. Vistas opened up, sculptured rock formations... interesting vegetation...and, more mini-falls. I was really just looking for a navigable pathway, but was delighted to discover an area worth hiking just for itself.

    It did make it down and into Caballero (not anywhere near where I was thinking) and now I have a great traversing path to connect some of the great frontal range hikes...

    a good day.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    If you're like everyone else using this trail, hop on your ATV and ride it on down from West Side Road on Trail #119! Of course, ATV's are not allowed in there, but it does not seem to be stopping anyone else. If you would like to hike, Access either through Dry Canyon (trail 5574) or from either end of "A" (trail 119). Check out the trail descriptions for those or any of the trails leading up to Hershberger Peak or Ortega Peak. This little spur needs to be added to another hiking trail to make it viable.
    page created by imike on Mar 04 2010 4:42 pm
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