New Mexico's popular Catwalk closed yet again

U.S. Forest Service
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 11:35pm

Preliminary assessment of flood damage to the popular Catwalk National Recreation Trail has determined that major damage has occurred due to the recent unusually intense rainstorms in the area. The entire Catwalk area will remain closed indefinitely due to the inaccessibility of the area.

N.M. Highway 174 to the Catwalk is impassable due to landslides, damage to the highway and high water levels at the low water crossings. Water levels in Whitewater Canyon remain high and dangerous. Complete assessment of the Catwalk and Whitewater Picnic Area will occur when it is safe to do so and access has been restored.

“Decisions about reopening the facility will wait until safe vehicle access has been restored and the entire trail has been evaluated as the full extent and severity of the damage to the Catwalk is unknown at this time,” District Ranger Pat Morrison said.

The National Weather Service indicates that very little additional rainfall is needed to trigger flooding. Despite the overall decrease in rain activity, flood advisories or warnings can still be expected.

Flood damage to the Catwalk area at this time includes:
• Portions of the Civilian Conservation Corps rock stairs were damaged including the trail’s metal grillwork.
• A 30 foot section of the cement bridge that crosses Whitewater Creek has been washed away.
• Several landslides and rockslides have occurred along both the “universal trail” and the “old” trail
• Debris including trees, branches, boulders, rocks and sediment are present in the Whitewater Picnic Area, parking area,
and access road.

“I know this is a huge disappointment to everyone especially since the Catwalk trail had been recently restored and re-opened to the Octagon. My main focus at this time is the protection of life and property,” adds Ranger Morrison. Please contact the Glenwood Ranger District office for further information, 575.539.2481.


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