Barranca Mesa Trails
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PictureDeer Trap Mesa is part of one of the long fingers of rock that extend east from the Sierra de los Valles. The finger mesas are made of volcanic tuff--fused volcanic ash--that erupted from the Valles caldera about a million years ago. The tuff forms colorful cliffs, and creates a gently rolling terrain on the mesa top. Where Deer Trap Mesa pulls away from Barranca Mesa, it is only 20 feet wide. This narrow perch of rock creates fine vistas in all directions.

The mesa is named for a game pit found close to the start of the trail. Located in a low saddle in the mesa, the pit was likely used by Ancetral Pueblo hunters to trap mule deer by herding them up the narrow Barrancas Canyon and forcing them over the saddle and into the pit. Nearby are rock stairs cut into the soft tuff and deep trenches worn into the rock by hikers. Along the mesa top, the modern trail follows an Ancestral Pueblo trail for almost a mile.

The mesa's relative isolation makes it an attractive location for wildlife viewing, for studying wildflowers, and for simply enjoying the view. The mesa has three points, each of which can be explored on foot.