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Mitchell Trail No. 19

Contact Info
Santa Fe National Forest
1710 N. Riverside Drive
Española, NM 87532

Phone:
505-753-7331
Basics
Length:
4.4 miles
Difficulty:
Difficult
Time:
3 - 4 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
7500 feet
Elevation Range:
7500 feet to 8800 feet
Elevation Change:
1300 feet
Usage:
Moderate
Season:
Spring to Fall

Description

This trail may be hard to follow due to the effects of the Cerro Grande Fire (see below). The first portion of the trail offers opportunities for a self guided "interpretive experience” where one may study at length the effects of wildfire, and various fire rehabilitation efforts. As such there are plans for future development of this idea.

Leaving the trailhead, the Mitchell Trail soon passes a junction with the Perimeter Trail to the west, and then immediately crosses a dirt service road, and again meets another junction with the Perimeter Trail, this time to the east. Continue ahead on the Mitchell, as it gradually drops down, crossing a small drainage and climbing up the other side. The trail meanders across this low ridge until it drops down to and crosses Rendija Canyon. The Interpretive Trail at this point turns into the drainage bottom, and follows Rendija Canyon in a loop back to the first canyon crossing and the trailhead. A short steep scramble up a side trail to the east will bring you to a natural arch.

If you continue on up the main trail, it climbs steeply and has many twists and turns. Eventually you will meet a false ridge that you might take for Guaje Ridge; if so, you would be mislead. Continue on, bearing west a bit along this ridgetop and soon after some switchbacks you will reach Guaje Ridge and the memorial site (see below). From the ridge, the trail follows the Guaje Ridge Trail 285 west for less than 100 feet before continuing north and dropping to down steeply off the ridge and into Guaje Canyon and to the old Guaje Reservoir. Note: Many sections of this trail may be very difficult to find and follow.

Tour Companies

  • Santa Fe Area
  • Snowshoeing, Hiking
  • 505-660-0394

Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing From alpine to desert, Outspire guides enrich your experience by giving context to your hike. So that your destination is not only what you see, but a sense of where the area fits in New Mexico's history, geology and natural world. Our hiking guides are experienced, enthusiastic, and motivated to share the joy of being outside! Day hikes and winter snowshoe outings are planned to suit your interests and fitness.

Details

Length:
4.4 miles
Difficulty:
Difficult
Time:
3 - 4 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
7500
Elevation Range:
7500 feet to 8800
Elevation Change:
1300
Usage:
Moderate
Season:
Spring to Fall
Useful Map(s):
USGS: Guaje Mountain
Additional Details:

The Mitchell Trail 69 was established in 1973 by David Mitchell as his Eagle Scout project. He had recognized the demand for a trail leading from Los Alamos directly to the Guaje Reservoir, which was once a major munincipal water source. The trail is direct and steep, and easily accessible to the community of Los Alamos. David died just a few short years after the completion of the trail, which is now dedicated to his memory. A formal memorial is located at the intersection of the Mitchell Trail and Trail 285 with a view overlooking Los Alamos.

This trail, like many in the Los Alamos area, is at least partially within the area burned by the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000. The trail has suffered severe damage in some places, and trail rehabilitation efforts have failed to fully restore the trail to pre-fire conditions.

Visitors should be aware of dangers and hazards in the burned area. In particular, recreation in the burned area should be avoided during windy days and during rainstorms due to the danger of flash floods and falling trees.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

The trailhead is located on Arizona Avenue in Los Alamos. Arizona is reached by following Diamond Drive east to 36th Street. Turn north on 36th, and in less than ½ a mile you will meet Arizona Avenue. Turn left on Arizona and follow to the trailhead just short of the intersection with Yucca, and look for a small parking area with a Forest Service trailhead kiosk.


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