Hike Page

Calaveras Canyon – Little North Canyon Hike
In Jemez Mountains Region

Map File Source: NG Topo

map Hike Key: H10465
Last Updated: 12/15/2020 12:00am
Last Updated By: Marilyn Warrant
Hike Class: B (Moderate)
Hike Distance: 5.3 mi
Minimum Elevation: 8102 ft
Elevation Change: 526 ft
Total Uphill: 526 ft
Total Downhill: 526 ft
Avg. Grade: 6 %
Route Type: InOut
On Trail: No
Paved or Gravel Roads: Yes
GPS Advised: Yes
Drive Distance Round Trip: 168 mi
Drive Time One-Way: 2:00
Hiking Seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall
New Mexico Game Unit: 6A
Hike Status: Published


A chance to see the Calaveras “skulls” – face to face! Wildflowers, rock formations, green valley.



Trailhead Directions

From Albuquerque take I-25 North to Bernalillo, US 550 west to San Ysidro, SR 4 north to La Cueva, left (west) on SR 126. Once Fenton Lake is reached, it will be 4.0 miles from the end of the bridge which crosses the marsh to parking. Go past the turnoff to Seven Springs and cross a couple of bridges then look for the refurbished parking area on the right that now could hold 3 vans easily. PARK (0.0 mi) there.

Actual Hike

The first part of this hike is the same as several other “Calaveras Canyon” hikes. Go through the fence and follow the wash down to a 6″ pipe and go left along the pipe. A dirt road will take you up a hill where there is a gate. When you come down you will come upon a Water Quality Control project by UNM with many “mushrooms” of PVC pipe and a weather station. After about a mile, a rock formation that looks like a castle tower will appear. One of the formations, also about a mile in from the road, looks like a skull from the front, but like a gorilla or ape from the side.

After a POST (1.45 mi), take a left on an old road into the BIG SIDE CNYN (1.65 mi) (if you’ve reached the WATERMETER you’ve gone too far). The old road becomes more like an animal trail the further you go up the canyon. There appear to have been many burrowing animals at work to create holes, so watch your step. At LITTLE NORTH (2.0 mi), take a right into a side canyon. The footing is easier on the right (east) side of the canyon. As you walk along, note the places where large animals (probably elk) have bedded down. Go up to the end of the canyon and note the ANIMAL (2.7 mi) trail starting on your left. Return the way you came.


Take time to check out the rock formations on the west side of the canyon. The ground may be marshy after rains, so early fall is a good time to do this hike (but be wary of hunting season).


PARK: N35 56.455, W106 42.383
POST: N35 57.386 W106 41.467
BIG SIDE: N35 57.514, W106 41.444
WATERMETER: N35 57.558, W106 41.386
LITTLE NORTH: N35 57.820, W106 41.660
ANIMAL: N35 58.241, W106 41.372

Map Filename: CalaverasCanyon-LittleNorthCanyonMap2_MW.JPG
Hike GPS File Name: CalaverasCanyon-LittleNorthCanyonWayTrack2_MW.gpx
Hike GPS File: Click link to download hike waytrack file

Text Author: Marilyn Warrant
Map Author: Marilyn Warrant
Waypoints Author: Marilyn Warrant
Track Author: Marilyn Warrant
Maintainer: Marilyn Warrant
Editor: Howard Carr

Photos of This Hike
Click for caption and larger image