Albuquerque Senior Centers' Hiking Groups (ASCHG)

Ghost Ranch - Box Canyon and Mesa Montosa Hike
In Ghost Ranch Region

Hike Id H10452
Last Update 2019-09-28 21:25:32.0
Hike Class D
Hike Miles 10.0
Minimum Elevation 6520
Elevation Gain 500
Total Uphill 1350
Total Downhill 1350
Route Type InOut
Drive Miles Round Trip 248
Drive Time Oneway 2:15
Hiking Seasons Sprg, Fall
Hike Rating (Hike not rated)
New Mexico Game Unit 51

Highlights Scenic vistas of the Jemez Mountains, the Rio Chama Canyon, and Abiquiu Lake; view from above of a normally dry waterfall about 200 high at the end of Box Canyon, hike in the canyon floor with yellow and red canyon walls ascending over 1000 ft, and hike along creeks, small waterfalls, and pools.

Cautions Trekking poles recommended for rocky sections with steep ascents and descents, and creek crossings, and sun protection and ample water for mesas with little shade.

Trailhead Directions From Albuquerque, go north on I-25 towards Santa Fe to exit 276 for NM 599 N. Left onto NM 599 and travel north 13 miles on NM 599 to the US-84N and US-285 exit for Espanola. Travel north 22 miles on US-285 to Espanola. In Espanola, follow the signs to US-84. Travel north on US-84 about 36 miles passing through Abiquiu to Ghost Ranch. Turn right and drive 1 mile on the dirt road to the fork and turn left following the signs to the Welcome Center for Ghost Ranch where someone will need to register the group. At the Welcome Center, there is a sign for a suggested donation of 5 dollars per person.

Follow the Ghost Ranch map to the trailhead for Kitchen Mesa and Box Canyon and park there.

Actual Hike From PARK, proceed through the gate at the trailhead sign and follow the dirt road. In 100 ft, there is a sign on the right for Kitchen Mesa. Continue straight on the dirt road as it skirts the base of a monolith of Entrada Sandstone. At a fork in the road, take the right fork to the bottom of Arroyo del Yeso. Hike upstream crossing the stream many times until you reach a trail juncture at mile 1.2. At this juncture, you can take the trail to the right to hike in Box Canyon, continuing to cross the stream several times. Due to a severe flood several years ago, one is no longer able to hike to the end of the canyon. At a pool and a large boulder field, turn around and return to the trail juncture.

At the trail juncture, take the Upper Camp trail on the right that goes over and around some boulders and begins a steep ascent in another canyon. Small ponds, waterfalls, and seeps on the canyon wall are visible to the left of the trail. Ascend to a sagebrush flat called Mesa Montosa. A viewpoint overlooking the top of Box Canyon will be to the right of the trail. Continue on the trail. The trail will parallel the high cliff of the brown Dakota Sandstone to the left. The trail will then cross again the Arroyo del Yeso before climbing around a knoll. After reaching a low saddle, the trail will begin dropping into the upper Arroyo del Yeso. Before reaching the canyon bottom, bear left, cross the canyon, and climb the opposite canyon wall on an old road. There will be several branches of the trail that climb the hill. The old road contours around a point of Mesa Montosa, then climbs to the mesa top. Look for a road to the right that leads to the point of the mesa. Return to the trail juncture and then to the trailhead.

Map File Download it.  Usually a larger image.

Text Author Diane Owens
Maintainer Unassigned (contact Administrator)