SANDIA MOUNTAINS

SANDIA MOUNTAINS - NEW MEXICO

Day 1:  Meeting day: Meet at campground  or get shuttle from the Abq airport
Day 2 - 6: Trail days - exploring the Sandia’s! 

Trail Day Schedule (may be adjusted as needed)
Breakfast at 6:30am, depart for hiking at 730 in shuttle vehicle.   We will be on the trail for about 6-7 hours each day, although we can adjust our itinerary as desired. Return to camp at approximately 4:30pm, in time for appetizers, conversation and SHOWERS!  Dinner served at 6:30pm.

Last day agenda:  We will schedule a shorter hike on Friday to facilitate breaking camp and for travel Friday evening. There will be a shuttle to the Abq airport on Friday afternoon.

Relaxed and Private Camping!
We will be camping at Cedro Peak Campground, a spacious USFS group site.  This campsite is both convenient and quiet.  It is located about 30 minutes east of the Albuquerque Airport (Albuquerque International Sunport).   This spacious camp, located in a sheltered area with a combination of meadow and pines, will be our base for the week.

Sample Trail Itinerary for the Week
Day One: Oso Pass -  8 miles, 2,200 feet of climbing and descent
Our first day on the trails takes us to Oso Pass, with superb views of the southwestern part of the Sandias and Albuquerque far below.  We will access via the Three Guns Springs Trail.  After starting in an eye catching desert canyon, the trail climbs 800’ in 2.5 miles, past Three Guns Spring, to an intersection with the Embudo Trail. From there, we continue north to gain Oso Pass and our lunch break.  To exit in the afternoon we descend west on the Embudito Trail.  Then it’s just a short ride to camp, and showers, appetizers, dinner, dessert, conversation and rest!
If 8 miles and 2,200 feet of gain isn’t enough for you, we can detour at Oso Pass and climb South Sandia Peak as well.  This is a steep bit of trail, adding 1,300 feet in under 2 miles.  Total mileage for this option is 12 miles and 3,500 feet of gain/loss.

Oso Pass- Trail Description Quotations: 
“Three Gun Spring Trail is a great hike, with panoramic views of Tijeras Canyon…it is legend that three Spanish conquistador pistols were found in the area, which gives rise to the name of the canyon and the spring.”

“The series of switchbacks going up Three Gun Spring Trail makes for a good workout…  in contrast, the hike to Oso Pass is lush, tree covered and cool.”
“Embudito is Spanish for “little funnel,” describing the tight canyon that leads to Oso Pass.  Oso means bear” 

“The route gets into more tree cover and shade, and becomes increasing pleasant.  Embudito Trail then crosses the streambed and switches to the north-facing slop of the canyon which is lush and green.  I think this is one of the most beautiful areas in the Sandia Mountains.”


Day Two: Sandia Crest via La Luz Trail - 7.5 miles one way/15 round trip/ 3,200’ elevation change
The La Luz (the light) Trail gives us a full appreciation for the western prominence of the Sandia Mountains!  Beginning at the Juan Tabo trailhead, the trail heads east and up, moderately at first,  from the parking lot.  Initially we will be seeing varied cactus and pinyon pine as we ascend through a desert canyon.  Gradually it emerges into ponderosa pine forests and views begin to open up to the west.  About 5 miles up is an overlook with impressive views of La Cueva Canyon, Mount Taylor, the Three Sisters, and the city of Albuquerque- a great place for lunch! 

Resuming our journey up, the trail becomes rockier and the trees become spruce and aspen, a much more alpine feel than at the bottom!  Often the trail will traverse ravines talus filled ravines, and go below enormous pink granite rock faces.  Eventually we emerge onto the Sandia Crest, and our ride home.  If you’re still feeling frisky after 3,200 feet of climbing, turn around and enjoy the trail and the views in reverse on an up-and-back-hike of La Luz!

La Luz Trail Description Quotations:   
“La Luz Trail is the best known trail in the Sandia Mountains.  It is also one of the most challenging.”

“Impressive rock cliffs loom overhead.  Spectacular views of La Cueva Canyon come into view a short distance later.” 

“Beautiful views of the Thumb rock formation open up…there is a scenic overlook 4.3 miles into the hike with views into La Cueva canyon.”

“The trail makes fifteen switchbacks across the rocky terrain, gaining 900’ in elevation over about a mile and a half.”


Day Three - North Sandia Peak via Crest Trail - 13 miles, 4,300 feet gained
Today begins our two day journey along the Crest Trail.  By Thursday afternoon you will have walked the entire Sandia Crest Trail and also climbing both Sandia Peaks!  We will shuttle to the northernmost end of the Sandias, beginning at the Tunnel Springs trailhead.  This drive takes about 1 hour and is our longest drive of the week.  From there we head west then south, climbing gradually as we ascend the gentler eastern slope of the mountains.  The morning’s views are to the north and east towards the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains and Santa Fe.  After passing through numerous viewpoints and two climate zones, we emerge on the Sandia Crest itself after about 6 miles.  This magnificent escarpment of rock runs south for more than 10 miles, and we’ll follow it.  Up high, the Crest Trail has mostly gentle gains and many viewpoints to the west.  At about mile 10 we’ll detour off the Crest Trail and ascend North Sandia Peak, elevation 10,678’ and the highest point in the Wilderness Area.  After climbing the peak, it’s an easy couple of miles to the waiting van.  Those looking for a shorter option can choose to climb the peak from the upper parking lot, a trip of from 4-8 miles depending on our route. 

Day Four - South Sandia Peak via Crest Trail - 16 miles- 1,800 feet gained
This day we complete our north to south traverse of the Crest Trail.  By dinner tonight you’ll have hiked the whole Sandia Mountain range and climbed both its peaks!  We begin at the upper parking lot, where we ended yesterday.  The first two miles of the day takes us along the Crest and past the Tram.  Numerous views to the west allow us to explore the 4,000 void below!  Past the Tram the trail is mostly level for about 5 miles, until the mostly gentle climb towards South Sandia Peak.   We’ll enter some of the most peaceful alpine meadows I’ve encountered along the way, and big views east.  The peak itself is surprisingly accessible from the trail.  The final half-mile walk along a granite wall is quite impressive, and the summit views do not disappoint.  After summiting, we have about 7 miles to go, but these miles are trending downhill on wide, smooth trails. After the climbs of the last few days, a little downhill feels nice!   A special treat at the end of our day is the travertine waterfall (limestone) located near the trailhead.    Looking for a shorter route to the peak?  We can do a 9 mile version of this day as well!

Trail Description Quotations: 
“A series of long, beautiful meadows line the mountain near South Peak.  It is a gorgeous area for a day’s outing.”

“…the surface of the trail becomes soft soil, and the trail cuts a narrower passage through spruce-fir coverage.”

“…there is a beautiful flowing stream coming down a twenty-foot embankment just up the hill from the travertine formations
.”

Day Five - Exploration Day - Trekker’s Choice!
Today is our last day as a group.  At this point we’ve seen a whole lot of the Sandia Mountains, but there are many secret places still to see!  We’ll let the group decide on a moderate hike for our last day. After breakfast we will break camp, jump in our van and hit the trail!.    Barts, Canoncito, Faulty, Tree Springs and Hawkwatch Trails are all possibilities for today!     Our goal will be for a 4-5 hour trail day, and then delivering you to your car or to the Albuquerque airport mid-afternoon.