Virtual Tour of the Sawyer Mesa Trail Also Known as the Orange Ski Trail

orange diamond
The Sawyer Mesa Trail is also known as the Orange Ski Trail because it is marked by orange diamonds.  The trail is approximately 5 miles roundtrip.  Part of the trail is shaded and part is very exposed and sunny.

photo by Sally King

 
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Duration:
19 seconds

The Sawyer Mesa Trail starts right next to HWY 4 across from Cerro Grande Trailhead.

 
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Duration:
30 seconds

You immediately enter the lushness of the Mixed Conifer Forest. Nice and cool with lots of bird song.

 
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Duration:
37 seconds

If you are lucky you may even hear the flute like song of a Hermit's Thrush. This very plain Jane looking bird has one of the prettier songs in the bird world.

 
mixed conifer orange trail
About 1/2 of the Orange Ski Trail is in the cool green Mixed Conifer Forest.

photo by Sally King

 
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Duration:
31 seconds

The bird continues to serenade us.

 
hermit thrush
Hermit's Thrush

photo by Sally King

 
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Duration:
25 seconds

The dense cool Mixed Conifer Forest quickly changes to the hot exposed regrowth Aspen area. Hope you brought a wide brimmed hat.

 
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Duration:
24 seconds

This area was heavily burned less than 10 years ago and already the aspens are sprouting like crazy. Not tall enough yet to produce much shade, someday this area will be a gorgeous aspen grove.

 
orange ski trail plants
A variety of colorful and interesting plants grow along the Orange Ski Trail.

photos by Sally King

 
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Duration:
42 seconds

Fire is always interesting, burning some areas so heavily and leaving others relatively untouched.

 
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Duration:
35 seconds

Here we see a fairly strong demarcation between the lightly burned area and an area that burned hot and hard.

 
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Duration:
24 seconds

Here the trail enters a sea of aspen, mostly no more than a dozen feet tall. This is the aftermath of a hot fire almost a decade before. Someday this will be a beautiful aspen grove with towering trees providing shade. Right now it is hot and unforgiving.

 
thimbleberry
To live in a forest that burns you have to be tough.  Thimbleberry attempts to reassert itself from the safety of a protecting and moisture collecting downed tree.

photo by Sally King

 
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Duration:
33 seconds

The Sawyer Mesa Trail offers a pretty nice overlook of Upper Frijoles Canyon.

 
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Duration:
20 seconds

The trail returns through the shade of the mixed conifer forest.

 
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Duration:
10 seconds

You can tell Golden Mantled Groundsquirrels from chipmunks by the lack of stripes on their faces.

 
reakirts blue female
Reakirt's Blue is a common butterfly of high elevations in Bandelier.

photo by Sally King

Last updated: June 12, 2020

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Mailing Address:

Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance RD

Los Alamos, NM 87544

Phone:

(505) 672-3861 x0

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