Penistaja Mesa Hike – 11/30/2014

I’m writing this in 2018, preparing to head out to Penistaja Mesa tomorrow.

We hiked here back in 2014.  We were introduced to this area around Mesa de Cuba by an article in New Mexico Magazine, Badlands Walkabout.  We visited the area earlier (Mesa de Cuba & Penistaja Driveabout), and wandered driving about roads but never got oriented well enough to settle on a hike.  But it gave us perspective that we used to further research the area.

The Drive In

With help of the ASCHG hike (Mesa Penistaja Outer Loop Hike), we found our way to a place from which we could hike Penistaja Mesa.

The Hike

Mesa Penistaja Hike.Jay, 2014-11-30

This is an amazing area; check out the references below.  There is a large range of geologic formations: gray mounds, steep slopes up to the tops of the mesas, mesa cliffsides, and hoodoos. And always the amazing horizon with hoodoos on mesa promontories, Cabezon to the south, Mount Taylor and Chivato Mesa to the southwest, and the Nacimiento Mountains to the northeast.  But  best of all is the variety of rocks, including many pieces of petrified wood. 

The “hiking” is very easy – relatively smooth surface and little elevation gain. We mostly wandered, following leads where the appeared to be something of interest.  There is plenty to explore and see around Penistaja Mesa.


Total Distance:  3.70 miles
Elevation: start  6,975 ft, maximum  7,137 ft,  minimum  6,937 ft
Gross gain:  170 ft.  Aggregate ascending  536 ft, descending  536 ft
Maximum slope: 44% ascending, 41% descending, 5.0% average
Duration: 3:23

GPS Track Files for Download
I urge you to explore our hiking tracks with Google Earth. 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 2-dimensional screenshot above. For assistance: Using Google Earth Track Files.


New Mexico Magazine:  Badlands Walkabout
American Southwest:
    Penistaja Mesa
    Photographs of Penistaja Mesa
ASCHG: Mesa Penistaja Outer Loop Hike
Pinterest: Penistaja Mesa

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