South Wick's Canyon

South Wicks

This trail description was first published on March 8, 2015 and has been updated to reflect findings on January 12, 2018.  Additional photos on the Black Range Photos page.  (See also the Percha to Wicks walk description.)

This trail starts just south of NM-152 and continues SSE for 2.6 miles to Percha Creek.  The total elevation drop is 422’.  This is a wash hike so expect sand and rocks.  In a number of places shallow slots are forming where the water is eroding through the conglomerate.  From start to finish it is conglomerate which forms the bed and sides of the canyon on this walk.  

The last 50 yards or so is through a slot canyon of the classic style, sometimes no more than 3’ wide and 30’+ high (a portion of the slot is shown below).  This slot canyon has several drops in it which although no more than 8’ high require a bit of effort to get down or scale.  The degree of difficulty varies with the last flood, hand and foot holds come and go as nodules are scoured from the rock, the holes gradually wearing away.  The rock is quite slick but bridging is effective in the more difficult “pitches”.  The exit of the slot is into Wicks Gulch on Percha Creek.  It is a narrow canyon with high straight walls on either side.  If you are unable to scale the drops in the slot, to return to the starting point, you will need to hike upstream in the Percha looking for an exit point that will get you up onto the hill tops.  Once that is accomplished, you can walk cross country and reenter Wicks Wash as you wish.

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This entry was made based on a walk on Saturday, March 7.  The temperature was in the low 60’s and the air was calm.  In the summer this can be a very hot walk because there is little shade until you enter the slot canyon.  In most places the canyon walls are high enough to protect you from the brunt of the spring winds.  If you travel in this wash during any period when rain is possible exercise caution.  Although it is possible to scurry up the sides of the canyon in most cases, if the need should arise, that is not always possible.

There is no potable water along the trail.  The usual desert fauna are possible, including fox, coyote, bobcat, rattlesnake, etc. etc.  Evacuation would be problematic in the lower sections of the canyon if you should have an accident.

This is a very enjoyable walk, especially during the shoulder months - and before the spring winds.

UPDATE based on walk of January 12, 2018:  The canyon had more of a “slot” feel, from the windmill southward, than it has had in the past.  The rains since our last walk down the canyon have washed out more of the sand exposing more of the “mini-slots” (shown below) along the walk.  More beautiful than in the past from my perspective and with more exposed bedrock the walking was easier.  

Along the way we encountered some placer miners working their claim.  It always looks like a lot of work to me, but I think they really enjoy it and perhaps they make enough to pay for the gas to get here.


The surprise came at the mid-point of the walk as we entered the main slot near Percha Creek.  At the first high drop we encountered a deep pool of water which completely filled the base of the canyon, making further travel problematic at best (meaning I did not want to go on a swim in cold water in January).  The slots have always been changeable but this is the first time we have seen water in them.


The canyon has always been good for owls, primarily Great-horned, Long-eared, and Short-eared.  We encountered only the last on this outing.  The Short-eareds flushed easily and were generally seen flying away - always flying away.

short-eared owl wicks canyon


© Robert Barnes 2018