Now that Sonia and I have been living in New Mexico for a year and a half, a nice thing is starting to happen. We’ve been able to return to favorite spots and trails and see them in the changing seasons.
Ghost Ranch in Abiquíu, New Mexico is one of those places. Ghost Ranch is a retreat and education center, and also has a number of beautiful hiking trails. Last Fall, Sonia and I hiked Kitchen Mesa for the first time, and while the climb was steep, the views were so rewarding. We took my mom to Ghost Ranch in December, and did part of the Chimney Rock trail in the snow. A couple weeks ago, when Molly was visiting, I knew I wanted to take her here for a hike. I described the Kitchen Mesa trail and she said she was defintely in.
Ghost Ranch is about an hour from Santa Fe, just past the village of Abiquíu and Abiquíu Lake. The welcome center has maps of the property and can let you know where all the trailheads are. (They also ask that you check in before any hike and donate $5 per person towards the upkeep of the center and trails. )
The Kitchen Mesa trail is a 4.5 mile out an back trail that starts in a canyon. It’s a beautiful walk that begins relatively flat. There’s an area of fairly steep and rocky incline, with a bit of a rock scramble, and then you’re up on top with a beautiful view of the canyon. If you keep following the trail, there’s another short climb and then the trail leads out onto the mesa top, with a view of Abiquíu Lake and the rest of Ghost Ranch.
We packed a lunch, and had a little picnic up top, with the view. We followed the trail all along the mesa, and the ground changes color into small white rocks as far as we could see. Walking up the hill, all I could see was the white and the sky, and it felt like I was walking on the moon. A very windy moon though, so I had to hang onto my hat.
I love this hike for the rewarding view at the top, and also for the shadowy canyon walls on the way back. We always end up finishing this hike in the later afternoon, as the sun alternately spotlights canyon walls and creates beautiful shadows.