Kitchen Mesa Trail at Ghost Ranch

MODERATE 100 reviews

Kitchen Mesa Trail at Ghost Ranch is a 3.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near El Rito, New Mexico that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.7 miles Elevation Gain: 718 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

fee

Note: this is part of Ghost Ranch, which charges a $5/person visitor fee good for all trails.

Great hike. Great views. Follow the cans and the cairns. The slot you climb up is a bit sketchy and scrambly but fine for good hikers. Even if you turn around here the hike to this point is beautiful through the canyon and worth doing. After the slot the trail heads onto the salt Mesa. This hike is not a loop. There is no way down from the salt Mesa so enjoy the view and take care coming back through the slot area.

hiking
1 month ago

Started out at 10.30 on Monday morning, didn't see another person all the way up - had the entire Mesa to myself. Breathtaking.

hiking
no shade
scramble
1 month ago

Wow what a great hike! Amazing views, a good rock scramble and did I mention the views! Not an easy climb to get on top of the Mesa but if you can do it then definitely go! No shade, we went in October and the temps were perfect.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Excellent morning hike! The scramble up to the ridge of the Mesa is a bit challenging to navigate and find the markers, but thankfully we spotted the worn, green arrow to make it to the top of the ridge. The views are fantastic and make it well worth the effort.

hiking
no shade
scramble
2 months ago

Great hike! Fun rock scramble - definitely recommend using all trails map so you do not lose your way up the rock scramble - quite enjoyable hike

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful, fun hike. Our trackers clocked close to 7 miles walking from the visitor center and taking a spur trail a bit at the top (and exploring a lot). The scramble toward the end is not super hard and is a lot of fun (also not very exposed which is nice). You will have to climb and use your hands but the rock is pretty steady and it’s short. The views at the top are amazing. As others have said, start early in the summer and bring lots of water!

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing views at the top of the Mesa. It’s important to go early because it gets very hot in the afternoons. My boyfriend and I did it as our second hike in New Mexico and it was definitely a challenge scrambling to the top but totally worth it!

A must do in the morning. Difficult for anyone who is not a regular and very active hiker. Was not able to finish because of the afternoon heat. Some narrow places with drop offs on either side. If you’re worried about balance or nervous about heights a walking stick would be great to have

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

This is a moderate-difficult hike with lots of really rocky trails and the scramble at the end is no joke! But it’s a REALLY beautiful hike and totally worth it. Come prepared for the sun because there is no shade.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing 360 views. Scrambling was fun and easy. Can see out to the lake. Went on a Saturday morning and had the whole trail to ourselves.

hiking
4 months ago

FANTASTIC. Gorgeous desert in the lower part of the hike before ascending the mesa. I free-climbed the 30-40 ft rock face to get up to the mesa area without realizing that there's a chute/slot 50 feet to the immediate left of where the trail meets the wall; you can get you up to the mesa lot easier and safer that way, though the free climb was fun for an amateur like me. I didn't even see it until my hike back, LOL. Top of the mesa was amazing! Highly suggest this hike.

4 months ago

This is an amazing hike. The scrambling areas are challenging but with slow and careful footing the ascent to the top of the Mesa is spectacular!

hiking
4 months ago

Steep scramble 2/4 of the way up 1000% worth the views at the top

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

The steep scramble at the end is challenging if you’re not prepared, but if you believe in yourself and dig deep, the rewards at the top are unbelievable. So worth the effort!

Amazing hike! Super fun. There is a steep rock scramble halfway, so use your best judgement.

hiking
5 months ago

Great views and not too crowded. Our Aussie needed lots of help up the scramble.

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Did this hike over Memorial Day weekend. Nice easy walk until close to the end of trail. Scramble up the rocks and climb the chimney to get to the top. Did the hike in the AM to avoid most of the heat. Bring some water and sunscreen. Some nice wild flowers along the way.

hiking
6 months ago

Fun scramble at the final section, did this during Christmas and it was nice and quiet

hiking
6 months ago

The trail steadily gets steeper until the very end where you scramble up the scree to the corner of the canyon. If you're afraid of heights, I wouldn't do the last mile or so up. It's very narrow, but has breath taking views! Bring water, there is little to no shade.

7 months ago

Emotionally prepare yourself to climb a bit for a very short section after 2.5 miles into the trail... definitely worth it ... the views are like a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. Completed the trail in 2 Hrs. It's a steep one ; ) Worth every climbing step.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

Spectacular hike! First half is the valley and then a sudden climb up to the Mesa. The last ascent is a little tricky because you can easily there is no way up. Look for a green arrow on the rock wall that points you toward a narrow chute you have to scramble up - it may look hard but it’s actually incredibly easy. Once you are on top of the Mesa that’s where the hike really blew my mind. Up there you can wander anywhere - the diversity of trees (alive and dead), diversity of rocks, views in all directions of the rock formations and water are breathtaking. It is windy but I brought goggles and a windbreaker and could have stayed up there all day. The end of the hike faces due west and I wish I’d brought a headlamp so I could have stayed for sunset. If you are at all adventurous and like exploring this is an amazing hike.

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