Powerline Mesa and Ancho Rapids view

The Rio Grande from the end of the Powerline Mesa hike
An easy hike near Los Alamos that ends with a nice view of the Rio Grande. On this hike, you get nice views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Jemez Mountains and the Rio Grande.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: Los Alamos National Laboratory; Trails management
Region: North-central; Jemez Mountains.
start: 6538ft; 1993m end: 6400ft; 1951m
min: 6400ft; 1951m max: 6538ft; 1993m
elevation gain/loss: 137ft; 42m.
Length: 4.16mi; 6.70km.
surface: dirt
condition: Fine.
ease of following: Easy.
obstacles: None.
Part of the trail is a dirt power line maintenance road.
Fee: $0.00.
Season: All year. In winter, you might need snowshoes or cross-country skis. In dry years, you won't.
Dogs: Yes.
Bikes: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Unknown.
Trailhead facilities: None other than parking.
Hike attractions: scenery, wildlife (We saw deer while hiking.).

When we hiked it:

Date: 2001-02-17
Time it took us: 2:15.
Usage (people/hour): 0.00. We saw nobody else.
Cleanliness: 9.


Waypoint Type Description
PLM4Scenic pointVista point at end of Powerline Mesa trail
PLMPL2Trail pointPowerline Mesa trail meets large power line.
PLMPLTrail pointPowerline Mesa trail intersect small power line
PLMTHTrailheadLos Alamos Gate 4 trailhead
PLMY1Trail junctionPowerline Mesa trail split to stay on mesa or go to Ancho rapids


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Albuquerque New Mexico USGS 1983 1:100000 Y from sar.lanl.gov (free)
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.
Los Alamos BLM 2003 1:100000 Y from Amazon (purchase)
Santa Fe National Forest US Forest Service 2004 1:126720 N from Amazon (purchase) West half
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the trailhead:

In White Rock (near Los Alamos), head southwest on NM 4. The gate is about 3.3 miles form the intersection of NM 4 with Pajarito road. You are looking for Gate 4.
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About the hike:

The trail and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The trail gently descends from the trailhead. You get nice views almost immediately. You are walking along a dirt road.

After a little bit (at PLMPL) you come across a power line. At PLMPL2 you meet the large powerline that gives this mesa its (unofficial) name. You follow the big powerline.

At PLMY1, if you go right, you will go to the Ancho Rapids. Instead, follow the power line for a great view.

The Jemez Mountains
The Rio Grande and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
At PLM4, you are at the end. Enjoy the view and return the way you came, or pick a slightly different route. It is hard to get lost.

Plants we saw along the trail:

Reader comments about this hike:

On Sun May 22 10:07:44 2005 John from Los Alamos, NM said:
There is a good trail all the way to the river. I havent done this hike for some years but as I recall it took about 5 hours do make it from gate 4 to river and back carrying infants in backpacks. I remember that finding the trail wasnt immediately obvious once you get to the point where you can see the Ancho Canyon rapids, but the trail itself is very clear. I once saw a rattle snake in a juniper tree on this trail. Ive been told many times that rattle snakes dont climb trees. Someone needs to go down there and tell that snake. BE AWARE When hiking in White Rock Canyon and its side canyons be aware that there are MANY rattle snakes there. To find gate 4 start at White Rock and drive towards Bandelier. Gate 4 is a few miles up less than 4 miles on the left. If you go too far the road drops into the big canyon which I think is probably ancho canyon. Youve gone too far. Turn around and look for gate 4 on the right.

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