Pedernal Hike

Georgia O'Keeffe's Pedernal

Georgia O'Keeffe's Pedernal From the Ranch #1

Georgia O'Keeffe's Pedernal My Front Yard Album 1941

Ever since visiting the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, my mom and I have had the ambition of climbing Pedernal, a distinctive, flat-topped mesa in Abiquiu that the famous painter depicted several times.  O'Keeffe was once quoted as saying, "It is my private mountain.  God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it."

This weekend we made our plans a reality and set out to Abiquiu early Sunday morning to climb the mountain!  The trail to the Pedernal is about an 8 mile round-trip hike just south of Lake Abiquiu, near Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keeffe spent many years during her life. 

Pedernal mesa up ahead

The hike to Pedernal begins along a jeep road at 8,000 feet elevation.  The trail winds uphill along the west side of the mountain.  There were so many beautiful wildflowers, and the trail was scattered with colorful flint rocks.  After a few miles the trail comes to a wide clearing, then zigzags up the steep, rocky terrain toward the mesa.  We crossed over a boulder field before arriving at a narrow path winding around the south side of the mountain.  The path leads to a spot where the base of the summit can safely be climbed, although it is recommended that only experienced climbers continue on at this point.  We made it up the vertical wall, then followed the steep and rocky switchbacks to the peak of the mesa at 9,862 feet.

At the meadow on the way toward the summit

Wildflowers in bloom

The views from the summit were spectacular in all directions.  We could see Wheeler peak to the northeast, and 14ers in Colorado to the north.  The clouds cast lovely shadows on the mountains to the south, and everything to the west was layered in beautiful shades of pink, orange and white.  After enjoying the moment and snapping a few pictures, we began our descent along the same route with had climbed.  The vertical downward climb was challenging, and it is recommended to not hike alone.

View of Abiquiu Lake from the summit of Pedernal

Gorgeous views to the northeast

Pink and orange mountains to the west

View to the south

The Pedernal mesa was much greener than I had anticipated from the pictures, and I was also pleasantly surprised by all the trees and wildflowers along the trail.  The trail was difficult to find at times so it was really helpful to have the hiking book with us.  What was most special about this hike, besides Georgia O'Keeffe's history with the mountain, was that it was very quiet and desolate.  We only encountered one other duo of hikers all day (one of whom happened to be the curator of the Georgia O'Keeffe museum!).  It's really a unique and meaningful experience to get away from civilization and crowds of people and enjoy the wildlife and mountains that have remained unchanged for generations.

Pedernal mesa

Now that we have checked Pedernal off our bucket lists, I look forward to exploring more of Ghost Ranch next time my mom comes to visit!


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