Visiting Mesa Verde National Park? Make sure to take a stroll on the Knife Edge Trail for spectacular sunset views over the Montezuma Valley.
This past fall, we took a road trip to Colorado.
After Mesa Verde, we headed onto a five-day backpacking trip in the San Juan mountains.
While at Mesa Verde, we spent most of our time on guided cliff dwelling tours. As much as I enjoyed the guided tours, they could get a little crowded.
I was happy to find one self-guided tour (Step House). We also loved our evening stroll on the Knife Edge Trail, an easy hiking trail with spectacular sunset views!
How Difficult is Knife Edge Trail?
Knife Edge Trail is a two-mile, out and back, easy trail in Mesa Verde National Park.
With a name like "knife edge", I was expecting a slightly more perilous trail, such as the infamous Knife Edge Trail in Maine, but the easy trail rating did not lead me astray.
This trail was originally a road, and I can imagine that it would've felt somewhat perilous to drive along this narrow path. But walking on the trail was quite enjoyable!
Do I Need Any Hiking Gear?
This trail is really more like a stroll than a hike, but I did bring along a trekking pole, because I wasn't sure what the trail conditions were like. I probably didn't need it, but it didn't bother me to carry it.
I also brought along a Black Diamond headlamp because we were hiking to watch the sunset, and I wanted a way to light our path on the way back to the car.
This trail does have the potential to be fairly muddy. It wasn't muddy when we hiked, but I saw lots of dried muddy footprints along the way. You might not need hiking boots, but I wouldn't wear flip-flops that could easily get stuck in the mud.
Also, remember that this trail is at high elevation. If you're just arriving at Mesa Verde from a much lower elevation, the trail may seem more difficult. Make sure to bring along water, and rest as needed.
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead is located in the Morefield Campground.
When we visited, there was plenty of parking available.
Hiking Knife Edge Trail in Mesa Verde
This trail starts off nice and easy.
As you hike, there are some small numbered signs. The numbers correspond to plants, so if you're interested in a botany lesson as you hike, make sure to grab one of the plant identification guidebooks at the trailhead. And don't forget about the suggested donation.
As you hike, make sure to check out the plants along the trail — whether or not you're following along with the plant ID guidebook.
When we visited in September 2022, the wildflowers were putting on quite a show!
The whole trail was blanketed with bright yellow and red flowers.
It was absolutely gorgeous!
It won't take long for the gorgeous views of the valley below to appear.
I also enjoyed the views of the mesa around us.
As you get closer to the end of the trail, don't forget to look for more flowers!
I thought these thistle plants (pictured below) were especially pretty.
The trail comes abruptly to an end with a very adamant little "Stop!!" sign (pictured below), warning you not to go farther.
Once you reach the end of the trail, enjoy the views of the Montezuma Valley below!
If you came to watch the sunset, have a seat on one of the large boulders and wait for the sky to change color.
I will also admit that this was the only location in the Mesa Verde where I had a decent cell phone signal, so if you need to take a few moments to reconnect with family back home, this is your chance.
When the sun starts to set, the views are spectacular.
Snap a few photos and enjoy nature's show!
When you're ready to leave, simply turn around and head back the way you came until you reach the trailhead.