La Mesita Blanca Hike – 03/12/2016

Flora for this hike: Winter colors: scrub oak, pinon, and juniper.

Headed off in a different direction today, into the Rio Puerco valley from the south, off of I-40.  Destination – La Mesita Blanca, where Pat and had visited a year ago.  On that trip, we found the road was blocked by a washout, so that day we followed a two-track to what I now know was just the southern corner of this formation.  Today, we found that there is a lot more.

The Drive In

The road from I-40 is paved for the first 5 miles or so, until one is abreast of the village of To’Hajiilee; it then changes to a really good gravel/dirt surface.  The washout area Pat & I encountered is another 7.4 miles from the end of pavement; today Jay and I proceeded beyond the washout another 1.1 miles on the road, then took a two-track to the right, approaching the base the eastern edge of La Mesita Blanca.  

The Hike

Mesita Blanca Hike.Jay.2016-03-12

We then proceeded along the base of the mesa, continuing along the western face for about a mile.  We were enjoying so many different and interesting geologic features – different types of rock, different shapes, varying colors and patterns – so many curiosities; oh, to have a geologist accompanying us.

This is unusual, but .. Fauna for this hike: A small herd of horses. The white one on the ridge was clearly the “master of the herd”. He kept his eye on us, staying on the high ground, as the others went ahead, until they were out of site.

Thinking we may have gone far enough for today, finding ourselves near the end of the cliff, we saw a route the allowed us to ascend onto the top of the mesa.  From that vantage point, looking east, we saw that there is much more to explore here at La Mesita Blanca. Although vehicle tracks on the mesa top suggested that we could continue south and be able to descend to the car, we didn’t have time to explore that possibility so we returned along the route by which we had come.

Jay here: This was a unique hike for many reasons, but most of all because I had never been hiking beyond West Mesa on the far western side of Albuquerque. Also, we were hiking on the Canoncito Navajo reservation heading towards a white rock mesa that looked very far away when viewed from Interstate 40. There’s more to explore here when time permits but not a hike you would want to do in summer heat.


Total Distance:  2.67 miles
Elevation: start 5,930 ft , maximum 6,075 ft,  minimum 5,905 ft
Gross gain: 170 ft.  Aggregate ascending 509 ft, descending: 509 ft
Maximum slope: 41% ascending, 32% descending, 7% average
Duration: 1:45

GPS Track Files for Download
If you haven’t explored these hiking tracks with Google Earth, I urge you to try it. With the virtual 3-dimensional presentation, achieved by panning and tilting the view, you can get a much better idea of the hikes and terrain than you can get from the screenshot above. For some ideas, check out  Using Google Earth Track Files.

File for Interactive Topo from Gmap4: Mesita Blanca Hike.Jay.2016-03-12

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