Falls Trail

Orange cliffs with ponderosa pine trees in the front.
Falls Trail in Bandelier National Monument is a scenic hike that ends with a great view of a waterfall.
Trail Name: Falls Trail
Length: 3 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Suitable For: Hiking and running only

By Craig Martin

Map of Falls Trail.

The Falls Trail in Bandelier National Monument makes a delightful, scenic outing for families or any hiker. The trail has sun and shade, running water (most of the time), ferns and wildflowers, and ends with a view of a spectacular waterfall. Much of the trail is shady, covered by ponderosa pines. Before the post-Las Conchas fire floods in 2011, the trail continued beyond Upper Falls to Lower Falls and from there to the Rio Grande. But the floods wiped out the trail and collapsed the surrounding cliffs so that no route through has been re-established. The old trail beyond Upper Falls is closed and hazardous.

The trip is relatively easy but does involve a 300-foot climb back from the falls along gentle grades. Also, much of the trail is on a bench high above the canyon bottom. This is particularly true in the last quarter mile before the falls, where careful supervision of children is highly recommended.

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Knife Edge Trail

Knife Edge Trail is an easy, scenic hike maintained by the Department of Energy.
Trail Name: Knife Edge Trail
Length: 2.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Suitable For: Hiking only, good for families with children under supervision.
Knife Edge Trail map.

By Craig Martin

The Knife Edge is a narrow ridge of rock separating two branches of the Ancho Canyon drainage. The ridge narrows to become only a few yards wide, offering nice views in both directions. The trip is an easy walk on an old dirt road through piñon and juniper woodlands, and in spring you can find some early wildflowers growing along the way. It is a nice outing for families and a great early-season trip for anyone.

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Deer Trap Mesa Trail

Deer Trap Mesa Trail offers a fun hike and scenic views of the Pajarito Plateau.
Trail Name: Deer Trap Mesa Trail
Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Difficulty: Easy, with one tricky section
Suitable For: Hiking only, good for families with children under supervision.

By Craig Martin

Map of Deer Trap Mesa Trail.

One of the finger mesas extending east from the Pajarito Plateau, Deer Trap Mesa offers the most consistently scenic hikes on the plateau. In addition, the terrain is rather flat, with a couple of exceptions. The main trail passes by the game pit for which the mesa was named, then follows a well-worn path across a narrow section of mesa with views on both sides. A loop trail, located on Los Alamos County Open Space, leads to several overlooks of the Pajarito Plateau and Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. The view is constantly changing, and immensely enthralling. The most challenging section of trail is in the first 100 yards, a short, narrow, steep descent on an Ancestral Pueblo stairway that seems tricky but is rather easy and not dangerous if carefully navigated. Almost the entire canyon edge trek follows segments of three-finger mesas and is just over 3 miles long. Some sections are muddy after rains, but because of a general lack of shade, the trail dries out quickly. This is an ideal spring, fall, or winter hike, but it does get quite warm at mid-day in summer.

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Neblina’s Trail

The first section of Neblina’s Trail passes beneath tall ponderosa pines with a steep slope to the right.
Trail Name: Neblina’s Trail
Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Suitable For: Hiking, running, good for families. Mountain biking is permitted but the short canyon ending in a dead end makes it somewhat unappealing to riders.

By Craig Martin

Map of Neblina’s Trail.

A short, shady trip up the Neblina’s Trail offers a quiet getaway close to town. The trail traverses under tall pines and is a cool trip even on a summer afternoon. The area was relatively untouched by the Cerro Grande fire, although the stream channel is choked with debris from floods following that fire and the Las Conchas fire. Tall, orange cliffs flank the canyon, and the trip ends in a narrows where cliffbush thrives in a thick stand.

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Help PEEC Update our Los Alamos Trails App!

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center is working on updating our Los Alamos Trails app to include all of the hikes in our passport program, but we need your help!

If you have quality photos from any of the following trails, please send them to adventure@peecnature.org for a chance to be featured in the updated app. These trails include those that will be featured in Passport III, which will debut at our Earth Day Festival on April 27, 2019!

  • Graduation Canyon
  • Los Alamos Reservoir
  • Mitchell Loop
  • Red Dot
  • Pueblo Rim Loop
  • Kinnikinnik Park
  • Perimeter Trail
  • Neblina Trail
  • Camp Hamilton Trail
  • Lower Pajarito Canyon (Sherwood Blvd to Kimberly cul-de-sac)
  • Knife Edge Trail
  • Upper Pajarito Canyon
  • Pajarito Mountain Ski Area
  • Valle de los Posos Overlook (top of Pipeline Road, via extension of Canada Bonita trail)
  • Alcove House
  • Valle Grande Pond
  • Las Conchas Trail
  • River Trail
  • Alamo Boundary Trail