Discover Pajarito Plateau history along Kwage Mesa Interpretive Trail

The Laboratory is one of project’s collaborators

September 1, 2021

Kwage Mesa Trail Interp Panel Unveiling
Attendees at the unveiling (from L to R): Councilor James Robinson, Linda Deck, Ellen McGehee, Tracy Atkins, Eric Peterson, Kris Kirby, Vicki Loucks, Cheryl Abeyta, Mike Bremer, Linda Matteson Vint Miller, Los Alamos County

Six new educational panels along the Kwage (KWA-hee) Mesa Interpretive Trail in Los Alamos provide a fascinating glimpse into the geological, cultural and environmental histories of the Pajarito Plateau. Unveiled recently by the Los Alamos County Trail Network, the panels are a result of collaborations among Los Alamos County, the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Ellen McGehee, who is a historian with the Lab’s Weapons Research Services, worked on the text in her previous role with Environmental Stewardship, along with collaborators from the partner organizations. Each panel provides a perspective of the surrounding land, including the plateau’s volcanic origins, information about its past and present Native American and Hispano communities, the site’s role in the Manhattan Project and its subsequent cleanup.

On a sunny August morning, McGehee gathered at the trailhead with other project leaders and supporters, including the Bradbury Science Museum’s director, Linda Deck, to formally present these new interpretive markers. Many of the participants trekked along the trail, a flat dirt path with striking views of Bayo Canyon where scientists conducted high-explosives tests during the Manhattan Project. 

Go and see

Kwage Mesa Interpretive Trail covers a little over 4 miles round trip, and takes about 2.5 hours to complete at a relaxed pace. The first interpretive panel is located at the trailhead near the playground by the North Mesa Tennis Courts, near the stables. Click here to learn more.