Spruce Canyon Trail

MODERATE 21 reviews
#8 of 18 trails in

Spruce Canyon Trail is a 3.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

3.1 miles
675 feet
Out & Back

kid friendly



nature trips




wild flowers


no dogs

The Spruce Canyon trail is located on the Chapin Mesa within Mesa Verde National Park. The trail descends Spruce Tree Canyon to Spruce Canyon where it follows the seasonal stream up the canyon for almost 3/4 of a mile before climbing a side canyon back up to the top of the mesa.

3 months ago

Hike was really nice. My wife & I took our three year old with us. We went out late afternoon where it wasn't too hot. Nice views on the walk down, but a little challenging walking back up. Not that crowded around this time.

4 months ago

the trailhead is difficult to locate. it is further past the picnic area than the map indicates and is poorly signed up top. a wonderful, cool canyon hike though!

4 months ago

A pleasant walk and not so many people.

10 months ago

Took about an hour and 10 minutes. Was nice to see a different aspect of the park on this trail.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Little used trail that descends into a canyon, then climbs out. Can be done as a clockwise or counter clockwise loop. Total distance would be approximately three miles if start and finish are in the same place. My route started near the "Spruce Tree House" (this is the only ruin visible and is not far from the museum close to the rim; there are no ruins inside the canyon) and ended in a parking lot near the museum and was about 2.75 miles. Don't be deceived by the relatively short distance. This is not necessarily an "easy" hike, though many have characterized it as such. Total elevation gain was 602' and the climb out had a gain of 465' over 1.20 miles which is a 7.3% grade, not really difficult. However, the top section of .43 mile had 281' gain which is 12.4%. That's getting up there. And there are short steeper sections within this. You will struggle if you are not prepared for this climb. Strava rates the overall climb of 1.2 miles as a Category 4 climb, the easiest of four climb ratings, but be advised, there is really nothing easy about it. The descent that I made had a 9.3% grade over .83 mile and the trail was more smooth so it may be easier to do this in the other direction, i.e. counter clockwise. All that being said, this is a pleasant, picturesque little canyon with little traffic; I saw only eight hikers. It's shady at the bottom of the canyon but the climb out is in full sun in the afternoon. There is a stream bed in the canyon but the steam is seasonal; there is no water in early August. The only wildlife I saw were lizards and there was no sign of deer or coyotes. Elevation is about 6500' at the bottom of the canyon and about 7000' along the top so it is helpful to be acclimatized to this already. As with any hikes in such areas go prepared with water, some trail food and good hiking boots.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My wife and I did this trail April 19, 2017. It was very peaceful and desolate, and it was a little hot at the bottom of the canyon. The decent was very scenic, and the ascent was a little steep at times. The walk back to the car at the top of the trail was a little longer than we anticipated. We would rate this hike as easy.

Friday, July 01, 2016

One of the most scenic trails I have done. Starts with a decent down into the canyon and then you walk through the bottom before going back up. Trail was very well taken care of of course. it was actually raining and cloudy when we went but it was all still open. The only downfall to this trail is that once you hike back up the canyon, about half a mile of the "trail" is really just walking along the road to the museum. It only took us just over an hour and we stopped a couple times for pics. I definitely recommend it as a moderate, fun, quick hike to see a great area of the park.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I went on March 19th, 2016. The reviews said open all year, but the south half was closed for winter, so no loop. But it was a decent trail down to the bottom, and quite a good climb back out. It was just right to get the hiking blood flowing again after a sedentary winter.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fun hike, great views of Spruce Canyon.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

This was the first time here and was absolutely amazing to see the villages and history. Very easy hikes to this site and anyone can do it. Paved walkway down to the living area with great photo opportunities. Enjoy and take lots of pictures.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Monday, August 25, 2014

If you're a beginner, like I am, this trail is difficult. Make sure to bring enough water. Absolutely gorgeous hike.

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's open year round so is busy in the cold months. Good cross section of structures and nice museum nearby.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Spruce Canyon Trail is one of two 2 hour loop hikes accessible from the Chapin Mesa museum area of Mesa Verde National Park. It is a quiet, meditative type hike since the trail is not heavily used, even during the peak summer months. This trail features a completely different ecosystem than the rest of the Park. As you descend into the canyon the trees change from small Pinyon Pines and Junipers to towering Douglas Firs. It is not uncommon to see standing water in the creek beds and various birds and small mammals. Be prepared to exercise. The trail is moderate to strenuous as you descend several hundred feet into the canyon and then climb back out. With that said it's an enjoyable 2 hour experience. You will exit close to the museum area where you started.

26 days ago

5 months ago

recorded Mesa Verde Natl. Park

8 months ago

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Monday, December 07, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015