Great Hikes: Hop Canyon Tour, Magdalena, NM

Updated on December 8, 2017
Tom Lohr profile image

Tom Lohr loves holidays, just not Christmas. He is still bitter about not getting the GI Joe Gemini capsule as a present in the mid-60s

A Word of Warning

This hike comes with a couple of warnings. Firstly, this is a 10 mile hike with lots of elevation gain. Even if you think you are up for it, you will be starting out at nearly 8,000 feet and topping out at around 9,500 feet. If you are visiting from a lower elevation, you WILL feel the difference. Know the symptoms of altitude sickness and turn around immediately if you or anyone in your party begin to experience these symptoms.

Think twice about taking your dog. This trail is dog friendly, but only for the most hardy of canines. I took Ella the Brown Wonder with me and she really enjoyed it. But it should be noted that Ella is 6 years old, an excellent and experienced hiker and in great shape. That said, she was totally beat at the end. Also, rattlesnakes inhabit this area. If your dog has not had a rattlesnake venom vaccination, leave your buddy at home.

Speaking of critters, bears and mountain lions also live here. Bears rarely bother hikers, but the mountain lions in this area have attacked and even killed dogs. Do not let your pet stray out of sight. I have seen bears, but not the lions. I HAVE seen game cam footage of the lions very near this area.

There are no water sources on this trail most of the year. Take as much water as you think you will need, and then take extra.

The Quick and Dirty

DIFFICULTY: difficult

DISTANCE: 10 miles

TIME: 7-8 hours

TYPE: loop



Getting There

hop canyon trailhead# 25 nm:
Hop Canyon Trailhead for #25 and 25A, Hop Canyon Rd, Magdalena, NM 87825, USA

get directions

Getting to the trailhead is fairly straightforward. From Magdalena, turn onto Kelly Road at the Ranger station. Follow the road to a junction and bear right onto Hop Canyon Road. Hop Canyon Road starts out paved, turns into a hard packed dirt road and then a forest road. Most vehicles will get to the trailhead without much difficulty, but driver gingerly as you near your starting point.

The trailhead is clearly marked and has a turnout where you can safely park your vehicle. Look for the signed with the big "25" on it. There are two trailheads here, 25A and 25B.

look for the trailhead sign
look for the trailhead sign | Source

The Route

The hike begins on trail 25B, that is the trail on the west side of the road. You will immediately begin an uphill walk through ponderosa pines. About and hour into the hike, you will cross an large rockslide that looks like a someone spilled a giant box of Grapenuts cereal down the mountain. The rockslide is stable, but your dog may need some assistance or reassurance to traverse it.

Near the rockslide area, you will be greeted with fantastic westerly views. In the distance, you will be able to see the Very Large Array (VLA). The VLA is a conglomeration of a dozen or more large radio astronomy antennas. The antennas are on railroad tracks and are occasionally moved about in different configurations.

Ella had little issue on the rockslide
Ella had little issue on the rockslide | Source

Not long after these splendid views comes the only confusing point along the trail. The actual path will pass through a fence via a shoddy, barbed wire gate. You can see the trail beyond the gate, but another path continues up the hill and is more prominent, often luring hikers the wrong way. There is NO sign at this junction.

this is the gate through which the trail continues
this is the gate through which the trail continues | Source

Pressing on for another hour or so and you will finally be rewarded with some flat trail. This portion runs along a wide ridge on the western side of Hop Canyon, although you will not see either the eastern or western slope. It is along this portion that you will come to a junction. If you veer right you will end up on top of South Baldy Mountain. You need to continue straight, there is a sign that will direct you towards Hop Canyon Trail. After this point, you are technically on trail #8 (on some maps, but not all), but it is never marked as such after this point. It will eventually link up with trail 25A.

look for this sign
look for this sign | Source

The trail that runs across the back (south) end of Hop Canyon will at first come upon a large open meadow. This is a great place to watch for wildlife as they come here to graze, and an awesome place to have your lunch as it marks the halfway point of the hike.

a perfect spot for lunch
a perfect spot for lunch | Source

If you are hiking with a dog, take note of how much it is drinking. Dehydration can affect them too. Carrying your own water is difficult enough, but ensure you have enough for your pooch. Ella likes to carry her own water. On this trip we used an old Kelty dog pack for her to carry two bottles of water. It makes her feel just like her humans when she has her own pack. Unfortunately, the Kelty is no longer being produced. On other trips the have used a comparable and efficient substitute pack from Outward Hound that is affordable and Ella approved.

Ella the Brown Wonder loved the meadow
Ella the Brown Wonder loved the meadow | Source

After the meadow, the traverse on the back side is mostly flat. This trail is seldom used so it is not so easily followed. In the summer, the brush can cover up the trail. After the leaves have fallen navigation is simpler. There are also some interesting blazes on the trees to help. Instead of using paint that is easily visible, the caretakers of the trail used a hatchet to mark what looks like a large, upside down exclamation point. The problem is, many of the tress are healing themselves and the bark is growing over the blazes.

Also be careful not to stray too far south of the trail. The backside of the mountain is a sheer drop off.

one of the better tree blazes
one of the better tree blazes | Source

As you come to an end of the backside traverse, there is a wide, rocky saddle to cross and then up a smooth, stony mount. Beyond this, the trail is uphill and marked with cairns. Follow the cairns until you see a sign and pick up an obvious path. From here, you are now on trail 25A.

saddle with stone mount in the background
saddle with stone mount in the background | Source
follow the cairns past the stony mount
follow the cairns past the stony mount | Source
this sign marks the beginning of trail 25A
this sign marks the beginning of trail 25A | Source

The rest of the hike is mostly downhill, losing the elevation you worked so hard to gain. But, it will be worth it. The views from the saddle are breathtaking. It will take at least another nearly two hours to reach the end of trail 25A, but it will deposit you exactly where you parked your vehicle.

end of the trail
end of the trail | Source

The combined length, elevation and altitude make for a challenging, but rewarding, hike. This adventure is a great introduction to the Cibola National Forest and located in some of the less explored areas of New Mexico.

Be sure to check out the town of Magdalena while you are there. It is small, but very unique with lots of character. Treat yourself to a beer in the only bar in town after you get off of the mountain; you have earned it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)