Point Lookout Trail
Point Lookout Trail
Trailhead: Point Lookout Trail, Mesa Verde National Park
Distance: 2.3 miles (moderate)
This trail is another one located within Morefield Campground. The parking lot also serves as the parking lot for the amphitheater, so it's pretty huge - unless there's a program going on you shouldn't have to worry about finding a spot (in fact, we were the only car in the lot at 10 am!). The trail starts out nice and level, facing north. It meanders through a field before taking a sharp right turn and beginning the slow series of switchbacks that take you to the top of the mesa.
Mesa Verde National Park is at a pretty high elevation - most of the park sits at around 7,000 ft above sea level. Hiking at this elevation is considerably more difficult than you would expect, and we had to work to get the 400 feet of elevation gain on this trail. Thankfully, the views are spectacular and it made it all worth it. We couldn't get too caught up in looking out in front of us, though, because MVNP has snakes and we're getting to the beginning of summer.
Right as we reached the corner in a switchback, I heard a weird noise in the grass and realized it was a snake about to cross the trail! We watched him make his way to the other side, grateful that we were paying attention and didn't step on him!
After doing some research, I've basically determined that this is a Bull Snake (though, if you know otherwise please let me know!). He's not poisonous and is actually great at pest control - he also kills rattlesnakes, so he is pretty highly thought of in the park.
Fun fact: bull snakes kill their prey by constriction!
After a LONG uphill slog, we finally reached the top of the Mesa. It was so beautiful and, at 8,387 ft, almost the highest point in the park! The Mesa's seem to come out of nowhere in the landscape - it goes Rocky Mountains, flat, flat, flat, Mesas. We really felt on top of the world and were in awe of what was before us.
We came across a wide open space that offered unobstructed views of the valley below. Again, like on the Knife Edge Trail, we were the only ones there. We had all the time we wanted to sit and admire and talk about the sorts of things that seem to only come up when you're in these situations. As we were sitting there, the White Throated Swifts were playing in the breeze. When they would fly by we could hear their wings slicing through the air - a couple of them flew pretty close to our heads and really freaked us out!
When we headed back, we realized what perfect timing we have - people were just starting to come on the trail. We passed one gentleman who stuck up a conversation (because Logan still has VA tags on his car) about where we were from. It's such a small world! He grew up in Baltimore, where tons of Logan's family still lives. I'm always so impressed by the fact that no matter where we go, we find someone from our little corner of the world.
The trail was beautiful and a great start to a full day in Mesa Verde. Definitely make sure you take enough water, I was fooled by the easiness of Knife Edge and didn't bring enough (but Logan was kind enough to share his). And remember, high altitude hiking is rough, but nearly always worth it in the end.