Barranca Mesa-Guaje Mtn-Guaje Canyon
ElevationAscent: 1,683' 513 m
Descent: -1,686' -514 m
High: 7,626' 2,324 m
Low: 6,923' 2,110 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)
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“Route mainly features the spectacular views from Guaje Mountain, but also many popular trailheads.”— Bill Blumenthal
Family Friendly This is a long trip overall for kids, but the trip can be easily shortened by turning around early. The route can also be started at the Rendija Canyon Trailhead which shortens the trip by 1.4 miles.
The trail crosses Cabra Canyon which is filled with wildflowers in the fall before ascending about 550 feet to a small saddle on Guaje Ridge at the 2-mile point. Turn right (east) on the saddle and follow the trail to the top of Guaje Mountain in another 0.3 miles and 150 feet elevation gain. Enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views of Los Alamos to the south, Pajarito and Caballo Mountains to the west and the Truchas Peaks in the Sange de Cristo range to the east.
Return back down the mountain to the saddle and continue north on the Pajarito Trail #286 down into Guaje Canyon. The forest north of Rendija Canyon was severely burned over in the 2001 Cerro Grande Fire and many large downed Ponderosa Pines remain scatter over the now very arid landscape. The Pajarito Trail #286 crosses the eastern trailhead of the Guaje Canyon Trail #282 at the bottom of Guaje Canyon which has suffered intense flooding damage after both the Cerro Grande and the 2011 Los Conchas fires.
Turn around at this 3.25-mile point and return south to the saddle. Descend 0.2 miles south from the saddle and look for a side trail heading west. Follow this trail for 0.6 miles until it intersects the Cabra Loop Trail #279. Turn sharply south on the Cabra Loop Trail and follow it another 0.6 miles to the intersection with the Pajarito Trail again. Turn south on the Pajarito Trail and follow it past the Rendija Canyon Trailhead and back to the starting point on Barranca Road.
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ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, History & Background