One of the great short hikes on Chapin Mesa in Mesa Verde National Park is the trail out to the Soda Canyon Overlook. Just past the Balcony House parking area, this is a great hike to do after a Balcony House tour. There will likely be few to no other people on the trail, which is a great respite after one of the crowded cliff dwelling tours on the mesa.
Starting at the small parking area on Cliff Palace Loop, the trail heads out on a level track through the Utah juniper and pinyon pine forest. Wildflowers and cactus flowers constitute most of the scenery until the trail approaches the edge of the canyon. Here there are three overlooks, each giving a somewhat different point of view down Soda Canyon. At the first overlook there is a great view of the alcove containing the Balcony House ruin. It is hard not to admire the people who lived in these canyons for hundreds of years, farming on the mesa tops and carrying their harvests down the precarious stone paths to the cliff dwellings like Balcony House.
After following the short loop past the three overlooks, the trail rejoins the main route back to the parking area.