Hiking Tour #3: (3.7 mile reverse Misery Ridge loop)
Steep scree down, easy flat, then more difficult climb up and steep downhill scree.
Down the steep scree Chute Trail, cross the bridge, left on the flat River Trail, up the steeper Mesa Verde Trail and down the steep scree Misery Ridge Trail. (3.7 miles round trip to the Welcome Center)
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From the Welcome Center, go to the Overlook and descend the paved trail, then bear to the right to go down the short, but steep scree Chute Trail.
Alternate route down: take the left fork down the more gradual gravel Canyon Trail and follow it around until it meets at the bottom of the Chute Trail, adding 500 more feet to your trip.
Continue along the river past Phoenix Buttress around the Southern Tip of the park until you see Monkey Face, one of the icons of the park, come into view.
Continue up the more difficult Mesa Verde Trail by taking the first Mesa Verde connector to head up to the top of the ridge to take in the breathtaking views along the flat part of the Misery Ridge Trail.
Then position yourself wisely as trail challenges you down its more difficult scree twists and turns back to the bridge where you started, then back up either the Canyon or the Chute Trail to the Welcome Center.
Reverse Option: You can of course do this in reverse, by going slightly right heading up the steep Misery Ridge Trail just across from the bridge. You can take in the views from the summit there, and then head back across the ridge, then down to the river and back to the bridge and back up either the Canyon or the Chute Trail.
TIP: Best to go to the left on hot mornings to avoid going up the steep Misery Ridge Trail in full sun.