The South Mesa Trail is a backcountry loop trail that climbs steeply to the top of South Mesa. The view from the mesa is spectacular as it gives a panoramic view of Chaco Canyon and the Ancient Puebloan ruins. A backcountry permit is required to hike the South Mesa Trail; information and the necessary permit may be acquired at the trailhead.
Once at the top of the Mesa, the Tsin Kletzin site is available to explore. The remains of this Chacoan Great House contain 81 rooms, 3 Kivas and a plaza. Many of the rooms were used for storing food and as a place to meet with other Puebloans who traveled from near and far for rituals and ceremonies. Evidence from archeological excavations also revealed that families lived here, often residing in three or four rooms per family.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park is considered to be the most remarkable Ancient Puebloan ruins site within Southwest America; this sacred site is protected by federal laws, please do not disturb or remove the artifacts and report evidence of vandalism.
Note: Metrics on this page cover the first half of the trail.
The South Mesa Trail has a maximum elevation of 6,658 ft (2,029 m), a minimum elevation of 6,149 ft (1,874 m), and an elevation gain of 5,301 ft (1,616 m) in the [ A to B ] direction.
The following chart shows the total calories that you may expend on the South Mesa Trail while hiking in the [ A to B ] and [ B to A ] direction at a typical speed and is based on gross weight (which includes anything carried), the topography, trail length and trail conditions.
|[ A to B ] or [ B to A ]|
|Steps 1||Length 2||Min Ele 3||Max Ele 4|
|3,508||1.6 mi||6,149 ft||6,658 ft|
|[ A to B ]|
|Time 5||Floors 6||Gain 7||Loss 8|
|48 min||0.5||5,301 ft||3,029 ft|
|[ B to A ]|
|39 min||0.1||3,029 ft||5,301 ft|
The length of the South Mesa Trail is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) or 3,508 steps.
A person in good physical health can hike the South Mesa Trail in 48 min in the [ A to B ] direction, and in 39 min in the [ B to A ] direction.
Download free South Mesa Trail topo maps and the adjoining quads to plan your hike. These are full-sheet, 7.5 Minute (1:24,000 scale) Chaco Culture National Historical Park topographic maps. Do you want full-sheet outdoor recreation JPEG Topo Maps?
Yes, and it's free! The South Mesa Trail is located on the Pueblo Bonito topo map. Use the adjoining quadrangle legend to download the map.
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