South Mesa (Tsin Kletsin)
|A longer hike at Chaco that takes you to an outlying site and then and through a canyon with interesting geology. This hike sees fewer people than many of the other hikes at Chaco Culture NHP.|
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||3:29.|
|Usage (people/hour):||0.00. People per hour unrecorded.|
|CRINCN||Trailhead||Casa Rinconada and parking area for several backcountry hikes|
|TKJCT||Trail junction||Junction of Tsin Kletsin loop trail and a spur trail to the archaeological site|
|TSINKLETSN||Trail point||Tsin Kletsin archaeological site at Chaco Culture National Historic Park|
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah||Automobile Club of Southern California||1998||1:0||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.|
|Wildernesses of New Mexico||US Forest Service||1981||1:1000000||N||No online copies.||Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.|
Support this site:By purchasing your hiking gear through these links, you will support this web site and it won't cost you anything more. Camping gear at Amazon Save 40% on Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot & More + Free Shipping over $75! Click to Save.
Getting to the trailhead:
The National Park Service has made it much easier to find the park than in days gone by. You used to have to guess which road to take whenever you came to a fork. They now have good signs all the way in. They also have a map online. From Cuba, take US 550 (old NM 44) past Counselor and Lybrook. Just past mile marker 112 is the turnoff, which is across the street from the Red Mesa Express gas station and convenience store. A sign indicates the turnoff to the left. The route is well signed. After about 4.7 miles, you will turn right from the paved road onto a dirt road, county road 7950. Beware that the dirt road sometimes gets exciting when it rains. Do not cross the washes if there is any water running. 16.4 miles from the turnoff from US 550, the road turns left, and again, there is a sign here. When the road becomes really washboard-y, you are getting close. At 19.4 miles from US 550, you enter the park. The visitor center will be on your right after a mile or so. You must pay an entrance fee and obtain a backcountry permit at the visitor center before hiking. From the visitor center, turn right. After about 3.5 miles, take the left branch to stay on the loop road. 3.7 miles from the visitor center, you will see the trailhead, which is Casa Rinconada, GPS CRINCN.
About the hike:
You first walk through Casa Rinconada, where you see buildings such as this one. Morning light would be best for taking photos here. This photo by Diana Northup.
Near stop 10 on the Casa Rinconada trail, you come across this sign indicating the trail that heads to Tsin Kletsin.
The trail heads up the mesa.
Looking back from partially up the mesa, you can see the trail, Casa Rinconada, and the parking area.
The trail is marked with cairns, this one with a smiley-face of lichen next to it.
As you near the mesa top, you go through a small slot canyon. Diana got this photo of Kenneth in it.
Once you are on a shelf, the trail is on sandstone.
As you climb the mesa, you get good views of Casa Rinconada.
While we would not say that the hike was full of wildflowers, keep your eyes open, as some nice ones are along the trail, such as this paintbrush.
Also for the sharp-eyed, you might see lizards like this one. Or, our friend, Kathy saw a horned lizard a little later on the hike. Unfortunately, it did not hang around for a photo.
The views from up on the mesa are quite nice.
Somebody cleaned out a nice home here next to the trail.
Once you get to the Tsin Kletsin, notice the quality masonry techniques that the Anasazi used when building.
From here, you can return the way you came, or, backtrack to the trail junction and head WNW on the trail. This route is what we took, and you get great scenery at the cost of a slightly longer return route.
From here, the trail slopes slightly away from Tsin Kletsin, until you come to this point on the mesa edge. The trail then begins to descend more. Kathy Beck and Diana are taking a short rest break before beginning the descent.
Here, you can see the trail in the valley below. In just a few minutes, you will be there.
As you descend, you have flat portions of trails on benches, such as this one that Kathy and Jurg are hiking on.
Keep your eyes peeled for interesting things along the trail. We noticed this rock with fossils. Remember that removing anything from the park is illegal.
Once you are in the valley bottom, the trail becomes flat. The valley walls have interesting patterns on them.
As we were walking down the trail, we came across this interesting site. Upon further investigation, we noticed that bees were coming and going from small tubes made of mud. Recently, they had had 1.36 in of rain in 36 hours, and apparently this makes for favorable conditions for these bees. For more information, see the related LookSharp entry.
As we approached Casa Rinconada, we saw this tenebrionid beetle walking along the trail.
Plants we saw along the trail:
Reader comments about this hike:
Add your comments about the South Mesa (Tsin Kletsin) hike.
Copyright © 1997-2016 Kenneth Ingham Consulting, LLC.
For details about the copyright, see the full Copyright statement.
Unhappy? Thinking of suing us? Read this disclaimer.
You can read our privacy statement.