Point Lookout Trail climbs from the Morefield campground amphitheater in Mesa Verde National Park. The trail consists of 25 switchbacks followed by a relatively flat walk to a viewpoint that overlooks the winding park highway.
Point Lookout Trail climbs from the Morefield campground amphitheater in Mesa Verde National Park. The trail consists of 25 switchbacks followed by a relatively flat walk to a viewpoint that overlooks the winding park highway. It is a 2.2-mile round trip with few visitors and many chances to stop, stare, and snap pictures over the park.
What Makes It Great
Point Lookout Trail’s length of only 2.2-miles can be misleading. The hike begins flat but once it wanders into the juniper and pinyon pine forest, things start to change. The trail of orange sandstone maneuvers through a wooded area, switching back more times than a skier, gaining 400 feet of elevation in about half a mile. The early morning stillness lends itself to observing rabbits, deer, and narrowleaf yucca as the trail climbs higher and higher.
When you finish the ascent, you will be rewarded with a gentle terrain that leads to a lookout point. But point is not the right word for it. It is a long stretch of rock cliff, about the size of a basketball court, with abundant areas to take a picture, eat a picnic, or pick a distant mountain and try to identify it.
The mountain range behind the city of Cortez to the west is Sleeping Ute Mountain, while the view toward the east, allows one to see the LaPlata Mountains and the town of Mancos.
The trail then continues through a circle of stacked rocks and to one edge of the sandstone cliff. This must be the true Point Lookout. The path of orange sandstone comes to an end and one can either turn around and begin the hike back or stay and enjoy a sunrise or sunset in soundless solitude.
You will remember the switchbacks—all 50 of them, 25 each way—first as you use them to climb and then as you use them to descend. And you will remember the viewpoint. You will stay for longer than you planned as you look out over the tiny cars and distant cities, as you gaze up at the huge sky and the faint mountains.
Who is Going to Love It
If you are spending a night at the campground, be sure to do this hike in the early morning or just before the sun goes down. You can walk from your campsite up the spectacular climb and be back within an hour and a half. Families looking for a lunch spot, the lone evening hiker, and the early morning nature lover alike will all find this hike to be charming and satisfying.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trailhead is marked by a kiosk at the edge of the Morefield campground amphitheater. There is plenty of parking. The trail is open all year long, but pets are not allowed. It is required that you stay on the trail and requested that you bring plenty of water and allow two hours for the hike. Also be aware that if it has rained, the flat section at the top of the trail collects water and can be quite muddy.