PEEC Brings Back Popular ‘Hiking Los Alamos 101’

Participants in last year’s Hiking Los Alamos 101 learn about local wildflower species from expert Chick Keller. Courtesy/PEEC
Hiking Los Alamos 101 participants will explore the Camp Hamilton Trail, which is steeped in Ranch School history. Courtesy/PEEC


When Los Alamos County first approached PEEC with the idea of offering a Hiking Los Alamos 101 series, to introduce long-term residents and newcomers to the trails around Los Alamos, PEEC staff questioned whether there would be enough interest in such a program.

What they discovered was that there is a huge demand for exploring the history, geography and flora of the trails and more than anything, just becoming confident to explore the trails on one’s own. So, PEEC is once again offering this popular series, which begins on June 9 and runs every Monday evening thereafter through June.

The series kicks off with a classroom session 6-8 p.m. June 9. The session will take place in the PEEC classroom, where Open Space Specialist Craig Martin will go over safety and comfort on the trail, as well as map-reading skills.

On June 16, geologist Patrick Rowe will take the group on a hike down the Blue Dot Trail in White Rock Canyon. During this session, participants will get a hands-on perspective of the geologic formation of the Pajarito Plateau from approximately 13 million years ago until now, with a focus on the beautiful Bandelier Tuffs created by the Valle and Toledo Calderas and the Basalt flows of the Cerro Del Rio. The views from this trail are some of the most spectacular in the Los Alamos Area.

The following Monday, June 23, Janie O’Rourke will lead a hike to learn about cultural history, starting from the Camp Hamilton trailhead. The trail has an interesting history, which O’Rourke will talk about along the hike. In 1924, the Los Alamos Ranch School boys constructed a trail that snaked down off the east end of Los Alamos Mesa down into Pueblo Canyon.

The trail was built to access a small log cabin near Otowi Ruins that had been used in the early 1900s as a shelter for tourists brought to visit the many archeological sites of the Pajarito Plateau. The Los Alamos Ranch School, using money donated by the family of one of the Ranch School boys, improved and enlarged the cabin, which soon became a popular destination for the younger Ranch School boys. 

Wildflowers will be the focus of the hike on June 30, to be lead by Jemez Mountain Herbarium curator Chick Keller. Keller will introduce the group to wildflowers currently in bloom around Los Alamos, and he will help participants learn how to identify some common species.

The Hiking Los Alamos 101 series is a great opportunity for adults, especially those new to the area, to get to know the wonderful network of trails that Los Alamos has to offer.

The cost is $20 for all four classes, which includes a Sky Terrain map of Santa Fe, Bandelier, and Los Alamos, as well as a 50 Hikes booklet. Drop-ins are welcome to any class for $8, if the maximum attendee limit has not been reached. Advance registration is recommended, as space is limited to 25 for each session.

To learn more about this program and to register, visit, email, or call 505.662.0460.

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