“A very scenic overlook trail with an easy grade on the eastern side of Los Alamos, NM.”
— Bill Blumenthal
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers
This is a popular local trail that has three trailheads at convenient locations off of State Route 502 depending on how far you want to run. The trail is on U.S. Department of Energy land and is managed as part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Trails network. The trail was established decades ago by local Girls Scout Troops and there is a plaque with information at the second trailhead.
Need to Know
The trail from the last trailhead can be enjoyed year-round and is particularly enjoyable and scenic when covered in snow (bring snow shoes or cross-country skis if the snow is deep enough).
The first (farthest) trailhead is located across from the entrance to Main Gate Park that features a re-creation of the old "Main Gate" building used as a restricted access point during the WWII Manhattan Project. There are also restrooms, RV parking, picnic tables, and potable water. Traveling east from Los Alamos, this trailhead is 0.2 miles past Camino Entrada Road on the south side of State Route 502 where you can park along the road.
Follow the gravel road east and it turns into a narrow trail that closely follows the rim of the canyon. Be careful if running with children due to the close proximity of the very steep cliff. The second trailhead is 0.3 miles farther east on SR 502 across from Eastgate Industrial Park where the trail runs behind the water tank. The third trailhead is another 0.5 miles east on SR 502 where the road starts to descend steeply down the hill along the canyon wall. Look for the large gravel parking area and gate at the Los Alamos/Santa Fe County boundary line sign.
The trail follows the relatively level old main hill road along the mesa top east until it reaches an overlook with a convenient and comfortable bench for contemplating the excellent 360 degree views of the Rio Grande Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background to the east, the Jemez Mountains to the west, Wheeler Peak to the north, and the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque to the south.
History & Background
Parts of this trail are prehistoric and the steep, rutted abandoned road visible below the overlook is part of the single lane old main hill road used by the Los Alamos Boys Ranch and the Manhattan Project.