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Los Alamos, NM: Mitchell Trail

Climb the steep, fire-scarred hillsides of Santa Fe National Forest on the 2.4-mile Mitchell Trail for a rewarding view of Los Alamos and the far-off Pecos Wilderness.

Rating

Established as an Eagle Scout project in 1973, this 2.4-mile route leads from the outskirts of Los Alamos to the Guaje Ridge. The trail travels through the burn zone of the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire that charred 48,000 acres in the areas surrounding Los Alamos and you’ll see first-hand the fire’s effects: dead trees and exposed dirt that increases the risk of flash flooding and deadfall during rain and windy conditions.
From the small parking lot (2 cars) and trailhead, climb a few hundred yards before dipping past the Perimeter Trail and over an access road then dropping down the east side of a water tank. Follow the trail above sandy arroyos and turn up the eastern hillsides at mile 1 for a steep climb through scrub oak and thorn bushes that have rebounded since the 2000 fire.
Although trail erosion is evident, the path is easy to follow from the false ridge westward toward a memorial plaque marking the end of this trail. Take a break after the steep switchbacks to admire the views and expect to spend a few more minutes ogling vistas from the trail’s high point at about 8,850 feet.
-Mapped by Bill Velasquez

To Trailhead

From NM 502 in Los Alamos, turn north (right) onto Diamond Dr. In 1.4 miles, turn left onto 36th St. and drive 0.4 mile before turning left onto Arizona Ave. The trailhead is on the right in 0.3 mile, just before the intersection with Yucca St.

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