Quarantine has called for weekend hikes with my roommates. With all of us working from home and me attending classes from home, we are desperate to get outside. Our last weekend journey took us south for about 50 miles to Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in La Joya, NM. It was about 50 minutes from campus, but the hike was well worth it!

The Trails

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge has four trails: Wildflower Loop, Nature Loop, Mesa View Trail, and Ladrones Vista Trail. We started with the Wildflower loop. This was only a ¼ mile loop around the visitor’s center. It was still cool though! The refuge labeled a number of plants and flowers and we all looked for them as we tackled the next hike. We then went on the Mesa View Trail which was about 3.8 miles long. It is a loop trail and you can expect to gain 272 feet in elevation.

It is said to be moderately trafficked, but we didn’t see anyone else until we were heading back to our car. We tackled the Nature Loop after which was 1.1 miles through sandy arroyos. The fourth trail, Ladrones Vista Trail, was one we didn’t hike. We saw the trail and while we were on the Nature Loop, we saw that this trail would have taken us from the top of the Mesa View to the Nature Loop. The website says it’s about 1.9 miles and is a moderate to strenuous hike.

Mesa View Trail

The Mesa View Trail was gorgeous. You could have started the trail with the hard part and climbed the steep mesa, or you could have done what we did and decided to take the easy way first. The trail was pretty easy starting off. We saw many mesquites and creosote bushes. The trail was well marked and meandered through sandy arroyos.

Along the way, there were a lot of benches for anyone to sit and take in the scenery. At almost every point of the hike, we saw new views of the Sandia and the Ladron mountains.

There were a number of lizards around and lots of tumbleweeds. Before we began to climb to the mesa peak, we went through a canyon that looked like it was taken straight out of a western movie.

When we reached the top of the mesa, we saw a sign that showed how a fault line perfectly hugged the canyon we just walked through.

UNM Sevilleta Field Station

When we began the Mesa View Trail, we could see the UNM Sevilleta Field Station. At the field station, they are working on the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research (SevLTER) program. The station can accommodate 48 to 68 overnight guests along with a laboratory and library buildings – all of which you can see from the trail. The field station has been able to research the wildlife refuge and see how four biomes interact. The various signs on the trails talk about the biomes as: “Mountain woodlands give way to shrub-steppe, meeting prairie grasslands that fade into the Chihuahuan desert.” The field station observes how they all combine and how they house many species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods.

The Nature Loop

After hiking down many stairs from the top of the mesa on the Mesa View Trail, we headed to the Nature Loop.

This was a nice walk through the sand. There were small signs that displayed the names of plants along the hike. It was a little rough walking through the loose sand, but it was fun to see the names of all the different plants we say along the Mesa View Trail. We were ready to get back to the car though for an after-hike snack and some shade.

Takeaways

I would totally recommend this hike! The hike was pretty moderate aside from getting down from the Mesa. I learned a lot from the hike from the signage and the views of the surrounding mountains were breathtaking. The hike was perfect for a weekend escape in the midst of these coronavirus times.

I hope you have been able to get outdoors and take a breath of fresh air!

Anna