Overview

This is a mellow and brief hike into terrain barely above the Mesilla Valley.  It’s a charmer. The upper canyon appeared to contain much more interesting terrain that what I explored on this date.

Driving Directions

02 trailhead

High suspension vehicles at trailhead

  • From I25 take Exit 1 to University Av.
  • At the end of the ramp, turn east (toward the prominent Organ Mountains and Mt A) on University Av.
  • After 4.8 miles, turn right (south) onto Soledad Canyon Road.
  • After 0.6 miles, make a 90° left turn as Soledad Road lurches east.
  • After 3.4 more miles, turn right (south) onto Ladera Road.
  • After 0.5 miles you will pass three large dumpsters on your left.  Just past the dumpsters, turn left onto a primative road towards the mountains.  This year this road is rocky and gullied.
  • After 0.2 miles (if your vehicle can make it) park in the broad parking area at about 0.2 miles.
01 car beside road

Camry, resting in a safe spot below the crux move on the primitive approach road.

As usual, my low-slung and soft-suspended Camry did not quite make it to the parking lot.  Fortunately, there is parking space along side the primitive approach road.

The road isn’t  that bad and most cars with higher suspensions should be able to reach the trailhead.

Trailhead

The trailhead is just a flat area for parking.  There are no amenities.

Data

  • USGS 7.5 Minute Map: Organ Peak
  • Distance: 1.5 miles (one way)
  • Trailhead:  5160 feet
  • Lunch Rock: 5900 feet
  • Gain: 740 feet

Hike

03 dammed tank

Dam, but no water (this year) in the tank

From the trailhead the path enters a short arroyo to reach the canyon bottom where it turns left to follow the canyon bottom up towards the mountains.  In a quarter of a mile the trail takes you past a dam meant to create a tank, entirely dry this year. There is a small waterfall about 100 feet above the tank that might be very attractive when water flows.  You’ll see a slight rise just south of the dam that is blocking the view to the rest of the canyon, I crossed the the tank bottom and found a trail that took me to a grassy col on the rise.  The tread continued downward from the col, until eventually it petered out in a small arroyo.  To get back on track, follow the arroyo uphill until it hits a second small col where it joins the main trail.

04 waterfall

View of waterfall from lower Achenback Canyon

The trail continues up canyon, losing a little altitude in arroyos at about three-quarter miles and at one mile, until it crests above another, much larger, waterfall. From there the upper valley opens up. Immediately in view is a hillock of nearly bare rock, topped with a rounded boulder that I immediately designated as the lunch spot.  Being hungry, I headed there first.  There is no trail. The bare rock is easily ascended, but for a brushy and narrow gully about two-thirds of the way up.  Views from the lunch boulder are great.  There is a prominent peak rising above the canyon’s rim to the north.  It may be Mt Baldy, but I think it is point 7974 on the south ridge of Mt Baldy.  It looks like a challenge.

05 view up to lunch boulder

View of rocky protrusion in upper valley with lunch rock at the summit.

Descend into the col east of the lunch rock at 1.5 miles from the trailhead and loop back down to the canyon bottom to regain the trail.  I headed back to the trailhead, although there are lots of other roaming opportunities up here.

Recommendations

07 me at split protrusion

That’s me, in front of another rocky protrusion that had a striking cleft through the middle

This is a perfect hike for those weekends when other obligations are pressing.  From the maps it looks as though you could get into Soledad Canyon and back fairly easily, which might make for a much more demanding lollipop-shaped hike.

09 sky shadow

Clouds above, home below, peaks between. View from Ladera Road.

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