Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cox Canyon Arch Trail

The Cox Canyon Arch Trail is in the canyon country in northwest New Mexico about 3.5 miles south of the Colorado border along Highway 550. The unmarked trail head is west along County Road 2300 for 1.2 miles, then a right turn on County Road 2310 for 2.5 miles, then a right on a dirt track past a gas compression facility.

At the end of the dirt track past the gas plant there are two short side canyons to the left or north and the arch isn’t visible. The unmarked trail starts up the side canyon that is more to the left or west. The arch sits in the area that is between the heads of these two short side canyons.

I walked up the wrong side canyon at first and came to a dead end. There is a shady alcove at the end but I didn’t see any way up to the rim. I retraced my steps and crossed the dry wash and looked over to the east. I spotted the arch in the distance from the sage brush field as I was returning.

There are two layers of short sandstone cliffs to climb past on the way up. I had to look around for a few minutes to find the first notch to climb through. It looks like a step has been carved to make the climb easier. The second cliff is a little trickier, but some handholds have been carved making that spot feasible.

There is an alcove at the head of this short canyon just below the arch. I looked briefly to see if there might be a ruins site there but didn’t see anything. This arch has a 42 ft. span and is 35 ft. high. It somewhat resembles Delicate Arch in Arches National Park and is easy to view from both sides. The return hike only took 15 minutes and my total hike was about 1:20 hours with much of that time spent trying to find the arch and the route.

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