Column By Nina Thayer
Have you ever wondered where one takes those spectacular pictures of the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge?
Follow me and I will show you. The Devaney-Longmire Trail starts only a hundred yards or so from the Quemazon Nature Trail described in our last column.
Take Trinity Drive west into Western Area. At 47th Street, bear left and 50 feet later turn left onto the paved utility road.
Continue down the hill and park close to the large water tanks. Follow the dirt road for several hundred feet.
As the trail narrows, you will see the trailhead sign. At this point the trail drops steeply into Los Alamos Canyon.
Many of the wildflowers are familiar from earlier columns like the yellow Goldenrod and Bahia.
Poison Oak. Photo by Nina Thayer
Leaves on the Poison Oak have dried to yellow and reddish-brown.
The trail switches down the north canyon wall. Note that after the first snowfall this section can be treacherously slippery continuing throughout the winter months, especially in the well-shaded parts.
At the bottom you arrive at West Road and to the left is the promised view of Los Alamos Canyon Bridge.
Los Alamos Canyon Bridge. Photo by Nina Thayer
Walk a few hundred feet to the east for a beautiful unobstructed view.
Cross the road and 50 feet to the left (east) the trail continues across the canyon floor. Notice the significant recent flood damage. The footbridge has been washed out.
Turkey Vultures. Photo by Nina Thayer
Just before the first step up the south canyon wall, you will notice bird droppings everywhere and a large dead tree to the right of the trail.
Don’t tarry! This is a favorite roost for turkey vultures.
A hundred feet further, turn around and count the vultures. I saw nearly a dozen.
Fleabane Daisy. Photo by Nina Thayer
Five minutes later you will walk into an open meadow, which is the gas pipeline right-of-way, and you will find many late flowering wildflowers.
The smaller and shorter daisies (6-10 inches high) with white-to-pale-lilac colored ray flowers and yellow centers are Spreading Fleabane or Fleabane Daisy.
A sharp eye will see an occasional scarlet Skyrocket Gilia remaining from last summer.
Gaillardia. Photo by Nina Thayer
Seventy-five feet to the left of the trail is a spectacular Gaillardia, also known by the common names Blanketflower and Firewheel. It has several large showy yellow and red flowers.
The bright red leaves you see on vines are either Woodbine with five leaves per cluster or Poison Ivy. Leaves of three, leave it be!
From here the trail leads up to West Jemez Road and the back of Fire Station Number One.
Joe Devaney and Conrad Longmire built the trail many decades ago to enjoy their daily commute to LANL TA3.
Return the way you came and the turkey vultures may be soaring right in front of you as you descend the south canyon wall.
In only 50 minutes you have discovered that early fall’s beauty is not all Aspen and Chamisa.