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A nice climb into the canyons that returns via the arroyo bottoms.

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6,003' 1,830 m


4,762' 1,451 m


1,246' 380 m


1,248' 380 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (21°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildlife


A looped route using the Alamo Canyon Trail and Roundup Ground Trail. There is some steep climbing on switchbacks for about two miles followed by rolling grassland and a quick descent into the canyon. Follow the arroyo bottom back to the TH.

Need to Know

The junction at around mile 3 is a left turn to descend into Purgatory Canyon. Halfway down there is another drainage where the trail seems to disappear, however you must follow a light trail down the drainage to another grassy area with a marked trail sign. There is no marked trail from the end of the Roundup Ground Trail back to the TH.

Runner Notes

This run gets pretty remote quickly so it is important to understand and know your surroundings and route. Mountain lions have been spotted in these canyons. Rattlesnakes are around as well. The steep climbs in the first 3 miles can get difficult with the washout and loose rocks. The major descent on the backside of the Round-up Ground toward Purgatory Canyon is narrow, steep, and rocky too. Caution and control are required.


The trail begins at the parking lot at the end of the scenic extension up to Alamo Canyon. The beginning is doubletrack that is washed out into some stretches of singletrack before you cross the arroyo in the canyon at 0.5 mi. Once you get to the arroyo, you can see the trail sign as well as the trail that switchbacks its way up the side of the canyon. This trail continues to climb pretty steeply for a couple miles until you hit the Round-up Ground, which is a grassland area at the top of a mesa.

The mesa and Roundup Ground are rolling singletrack that take you to the junction of Alamo Canyon Trail and the Roundup Ground Trail (just under 3.0mi). To continue on this loop, go left at the junction (and small brown trail marker) and head down into Purgatory Canyon. This is the major descent in the trail, and it brings you down fairly quickly over some loose and rocky trail with narrow sections that can be dangerous if you are not careful. The washout on the right side of the trail leads to some thin singletrack with little to no room for error. You'll end this section at a cairned wash. Descend this wash on a moderately defined trail.

After the descent into Purgatory, you'll continue to a short grassy area and then into a narrow and ledged section that empties you into the arroyo at about 4.25 mi. Once in the arroyo, there is no defined trail. Finding the quickest line through the boulders, rocky and sometimes sandy wash is a challenge but can be really fun. Following the canyon bottom will lead you back to the original crossing and back onto the doubletrack toward the parking area.

Flora & Fauna

High desert wildlife and vegetation. Elk can be spotted as low as the Round-up Ground.


Shared By:

Eric Borer

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 10 votes


in Alamogordo


  3.8 from 10 votes
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in Alamogordo


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36 Views Last Month
5,302 Since Jan 19, 2017
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Crossing the Arroyo. Looking NW.
Nov 12, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM
Looking northeast toward Purgatory Canyon. Taken from the junction just before the descent.
Jan 20, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM
Sunset over the basin and the distant San Andreas Mountains from the arroyo.
Jan 20, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM
Nov 12, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM
Just after the descent into Pugatory Canyon, heading toward the arroyo.
Jan 20, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM
I am sure I can see a face in that!
Nov 12, 2017 near Alamogordo, NM


Current Trail Conditions

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Sep 27, 2018
Ethan Rasmussen
Nov 20, 2017
Keith Wilson
Nov 10, 2017
Ian Howells

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