“An entire spectrum of views of Los Alamos, Pajarito Mountain, Valles Caldera, and Caballo Mtn.
— Bill Blumenthal
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The whole route is a bit long, but you can shorten the journey to end near Canada Bonito, returning to the starting trailhead. Cool, shaded, and easy grades for this section make it a pleasant hike.
This is a long, predominantly downhill point-to-point hike from the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area back to Los Alamos. In the reverse direction, it is a very long, strenuous climb starting at the Mitchell Trailhead in Los Alamos to the ski area. As described, the hike starts near the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and is initially a well-shaded route heading north with a gradual ascent through Canada Bonito.
There are many excellent views of the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the west and Pajarito Mountain to the south. At the intersection with Pipeline Road
, turn east to the intersection with Guaje Ridge Trail #285
(a narrow, partially overgrown trail). Continue east-northeast until the intersection with Mitchell Trail #69
and turn south down a steep, rocky, descent to the canyon bottom. The terminus is the Mitchell Trailhead in the north community of Los Alamos.
Need to Know
There may not be a place to stop to fill water, so be sure to bring enough for your whole journey.
This hike requires a shuttle. Leave one vehicle at the Mitchell Trailhead parking area on Arizona Street near the intersection with 45th Street in Los Alamos. Using another vehicle, drive to the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area via Camp May Road and park at the far western end of the ski area parking lot. The Guaje Ridge Trailhead is easily found a short distance west down Camp May Road on the north side of the road.
The trail starts in a forested area and heads north through a burn scar in a gradual ascent to Canada Bonito. After Canada Bonito, the trail climbs and intersects Pipeline Road
. Turn east and proceed to the intersection with Guaje Ridge Trail #285
(a narrow, partially overgrown trail). Be careful and look for a rock cairn since the start of the Guaje Ridge Trail off of Pipeline Road
is NOT marked with a sign and can be easily missed.
Continue east-northeast descending along the north side of a series of ridges until the intersection with the Mitchell Trail #69
. Turn south and continue down a steep, rocky, descent to the canyon bottom. Proceed eastward to the terminus of the Mitchell Trail in the north community of Los Alamos.
Note: The lower portion of the trail can be very sunny and hot in the summer. Use sun protection and carry plenty of water.