“Don’t Miss” Desert Mountain Hiking: Ortega Peak in Alamogordo

One of the best-kept secrets about Alamogordo, New Mexico, is its hiking trails, which are virtually invisible as you drive through the town. Fortunately, I’ve met some great people in the Alamogordo Trails Meetup Group who are willing to share their treasure trove of trails. Here’s what we saw when we were hiking in the Ortega Peak region:

We usually start at the edge of town, but it doesn’t take long until we’re up in the foothills. On some days there are less than five of us on the hike and on others there are 20 or 30 people, ready for some on- and off-trail scrambling. Maybe even a little canyoneering.

ortega-peak-north-1000After hiking up to the ridge line, we moved off the trail and down into a canyon. There is no easy way down, and there’s no point in turning around if you don’t like the looks of the drop. You just have to pick a careful route. I hate steep cliffs but kept my eyes on my boots and all was fine.

ortega-peak-down-600-1There is also plenty of climbing. Talk about getting that upper body workout while you’re seeing beautiful sights. A 30-foot hand-to-hand climb and your heart rate is right up there in the cardio zone.

Taking a break after a descent. Photos courtesy of our fellow hiker, Whit.
Taking a break after a descent. Photos courtesy of our fellow hiker, Whit.

Our group includes people from 25- to 70-year olds and I’m in awe of their fitness levels. We’re all so delighted at the beauty around us that the hike is always one big endorphin rush.

There are no signs to mark these trails. This is a part of Alamogordo I would never know existed without the Meetup group.

 

 

 

Heading back home. A look back to where we just were. Beautiful!
Heading back home. A look back to where we just were. Beautiful!

Next hike up? A nine-hour hiking adventure next Saturday to summit Ortega Peak. I love it!

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