Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dog Canyon-Lincoln National Forest

 I've been wanting to get this hike on here  for awhile. It's a New Mexico classic. My wife and have hiked  this trail three times. It's a  lung and leg buster,but we were rewarded with fantastic scenery, and the last time we went, the many dry waterfalls were all spraying, plunging and tumbling. If you go, you'll need to park and pay the fee at Oliver Lee State Park which contains the lower trailhead. You can also explore the boardwalk trail here  amongst the lush riparian canyon bottom. If you do that'll be the closest you get to the bottom for almost 4 miles,because the Dog Canyon Trail just takes you up and up, and just when you feel like you don't want to take another uphill step that's when the serious switchbacks begin. Eventually things level out on wide grassy bench in the upper( but still far from the top) canyon. There are huge boulders here and there that have tumbled down from the limestone cliffs, as well as the first shade trees of the entire hike. The trail leads down to the creek where there are a couple of old, roofless stone cabins. The trail continues from here steeply up the "eyebrow" and eventually reaches the West Side Road up  in the pines, but we've always made this our turn around point. On our last visit I bushwacked it back to the waterfalls to get some photos. Only a few are visible here, but further back on the trail,before we descended to the cabin and the creek, it's possible to see the whole series of 20-50 foot water falls that reach all the way to the top of the canyon. Some advice to those wanting to try this hike: it is very steep, and there is almost no shade until one reaches the stone cabins. It is best to try the Dog Canyon Trail from late fall to the early spring, Just keep in mine that there's likely to be snow on the ground in the upper reaches during the winter months.

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