Hiking the Catwalk


The original "Catwalk" supported waterlines instead of tourists

The original “Catwalk” supported waterlines instead of tourists

Whitewater Canyon was once home to a lumber operation, and water was needed to generate power for the mill.  Thus in 1893 was born “The Catwalk,” a narrow wooden walkway suspended from metal anchors and supports driven into the sheer walls lining the canyon.  Initially the Catwalk supported a 4-inch/10-centimeter pipeline.  In 1897 the Catwalk supported a larger 18-inch/46-centimeter pipeline.  That old wooden structure has been destroyed several times over the decades, most often by flood.  But in 2012 a new threat took out the Catwalk — the infamous Whitewater-Baldy Complex wildfire.  That wildfire was the worst in New Mexico history, eventually destroying nearly 300,000 acres of forest and range land.

The suspended Catwalk

The suspended Catwalk

It looked for a while as if the Catwalk would not be rebuilt, as the fire undid an extensive rebuild following a major flood that had occurred just a few years earlier.  Fortunately the resources were allocated for another reconstruction, this elevating the walkway higher up the canyon walls and replacing wood with steel.

The view from the railing

The view from the railing

The hike itself is not difficult at all.  There is a little climbing required at the far end of the trail if you want to venture off the metal catwalk and proceed farther up the canyon, but it’s not too bad if you’re reasonably fit.

The remnants of the old Catwalk — Destroyed by flood and fire

The remnants of the old Catwalk — Destroyed by flood and fire

Sheer cliffs line much of the canyon, offering some really spectacular photo opportunities.

Catwalk Trail

Catwalk Trail

Stunning green vegetation and reddish walls add color depth to your images, as well.

Catwalk Trail

Catwalk Trail

All in all, this is a very worthwhile place to visit.  The actual Catwalk rides along both sides of the canyon, and runs for 1.1 miles/1.8 kilometers.  The entire trail stretches an easy 2.25 miles/3.6 kilometers, and can easily be accomplished inside of two hours including multiple stops along the way for photography.

Whitewater Canyon

Whitewater Canyon

Now for today’s photo gallery of this adventure.  Click on any image below to enlarge and bring up today’s slide show:

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