Route: Dog Canyon trail. Oliver Lee State Park, Alamogordo, NM to Sunspot Observatory, Cloudcroft, NM
Distance: 21 miles with many trails at the top to lengthen the run. 5 miles from the park to the rim and 10.5 miles from the park to Sunspot. Over 5000 feet of elevation gain over 10.5 miles. 4.5-6 hours.
Summary: This was my first time on this trail but Chris had been on it many times in the past, training for various races. This is a great training run for the Jemez 50 miler coming up. I put this route in my top three trail runs in southern New Mexico, possibly number one! Desert to pine forest, sand and rock to snow and soil. Beautiful views and steep, technical trails. The route looks improbable at times but is so there. Some sections are definitely “no fall zone” as there is a steep cliff below the trail tread. It was so fun to bomb down this trail.
Most of the trail is on US Forest Service land. Oliver Lee State Park has a good campgrounds and facilities with water and bathrooms. There is a fee for overnight and day use at the park. Sunspot has snacks, water and a bathroom for a good resupply point. One can easily hit the crest trail and run to Cloudcroft. The run is possible all year but snow is likely near Sunspot in the cooler months (Oct. – March) and a summer run (not recommended) would require an early start to get out of the canyon and onto the rim before it gets too hot and expect a very warm descent. A forest closure due to fire danger is likely in the summer as well.