wild flowers

nature trips

trail running

dogs on leash

kid friendly

Just east of Albuquerque are the most visited mountains in New Mexico. Millions of people journey into the Sandia Mountains each year. More than half these visitors ride the Sandia Peak Tram or drive the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway to take in spectacular panoramic views of Central New Mexico and to enjoy many other recreational opportunities. The Four Seasons Visitor Center offers year round interpretive exhibits and seasonal programs at the upper Tram Building. The Scenic Byway has several newly remodeled picnic grounds with shelters and group areas for reservation. The National Fee Project is currently in operation for all developed sites on the Scenic Byway and along the west and north sides of the district in the Juan Tabo, Basin, and Las Huertas Canyon Areas. A daily amenity fee of $3.00 is required for all vehicles parking in designated, developed recreation sites around the District. An annual pass is favorable, with particular support given to the concept of fees staying available to the unit where they are collected. The Sandias are part of the signature of Albuquerque's unique sense of place. They serve as a premier open space refuge to a population of over 700,000 people in the extended metropolitan area. Over one-third of the State's school-age population lives within an hour's drive of the Sandias, and there is a great demand for fire prevention, fire ecology, and other environmental education programs. Sandia Mountain viewed from the foot of the mountain Sandia Mountain is a landmark in the spiritual universe of many active traditional Indian beliefs. It is regularly visited for ceremonial purposes by the Sandia Pueblo and at least annually by many other pueblos. It also has direct ties to Spanish land grant communities established by the King of Spain in the 1700's and Mexican land grants from the 1820's. Some Spanish land grants adjoining the Sandias are still active. Water sources are not only sacred to Indian beliefs, but also played a key role in sustaining the agricultural bases of the land grant communities. Several ditch systems still function today, including one actively maintained in Las Huertas Canyon as an "acequia madre" for a community's agricultural water. These traditional communities are encountering greater conflicts with the growing recreational uses of the Sandias. The lesser-known southern part of the District includes the Manzanita Mountains, which form a low ridge between the Manzano Mountains to the south and the Sandias to the north. A portion of this area is in the Military Withdrawal, where public use has been restricted since 1943. The Military Withdrawal and adjacent Forest Service land has been the subject of intensive ecosystem planning to reduce fuel loads and the risk of wildfire, to enhance wildlife habitat and ecosystem health, and to improve recreational opportunities. In many ways wildlife, fish and rare plants are the measure of our success as ecosystem managers. Species diversity and abundance relate to ecosystem health. The District wildlife program features habitat enhancement projects, inventory and monitoring of emphasis species, and informative and education. The program relies heavily on the support of partnership groups such as the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, Hawkwatch International, Central New Mexico Audubon Society, Sandia Mountain Bearwatch, and the New Mexico Habitat Stamp program; the wildlife program is integrated into fire/fuels, recreation, and forest health project objectives. There is an unmet opportunity to use funds from the Fee Project to help interpret wildlife and ecosystems on the District; some interpretation featuring wildlife is occurring, but much more could be done. Opportunities for Nature Watch-type activities are outstanding. The Sandia District faces tremendous customer service and urban sprawl challenges in managing the Sandia and Manzanita Mountains. Partnerships with interpretive associations, local friends groups, volunteers, and agency collaboration provide many of the customer support services on the District, including a variety of summer programs such as wildflower hikes and astronomy nights. The Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological site is visited by thousands of school children each year that learn about the history of human impact on and interaction with the Sandia Mountain ecosystem. Our Wilderness Information Specialist volunteers provide customer service and trail maintenance on the ground throughout the District. As part of the effort to respond to issues which arise because of urban sprawl, the District has increased its collaboration with surrounding communities in county planning, regional transportation planning, open space designation, and rural economic and tourism development. A snowy view from the top of the Sandia Mountains Traditional community values are being heavily impacted by urban sprawl, producing many challenges to the Forest Service in its efforts to manage for a full range of user groups. The motorized user groups in particular have greatly reduced opportunities on the Sandias and Manzanitas. Bow hunting is still allowed, but no discharging of firearms in permitted. Forest residents are more open to fire's role to improve forest health. Joint efforts with NM State Forestry are producing good results. The Sandias and Manzanitas are primary raptor and geotropically avian flyways. Many collaborative efforts are in place to monitor and record affects to these bird populations. In the past several years we have started an aggressive forest health program in the wildland/urban interface. Objectives range from fuels treatments along subdivision boundaries to bringing back the Aspen stands along the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway. Initial efforts were met with protest and threats of lawsuits, but gradually public approval has shifted; now there is a waiting list of homeowner associations who whish to become involved in forest health projects with the District (and with NM State Forestry).

20 hours ago

10 days ago

La Luz is one of the toughest, but also one of the most rewarding hikes you can do in the Sandia Mountains. The scenery is lovely as you climb up the trail changing from juniper and cacti to ponderosa and aspens. The rockslide is, in my opinion, the toughest part of the hike. Take your time and watch your footing. If you don't want to hike down, have a friend pick you up or arrange to leave a car at the crest house parking lot. Alternately, you can take the tram down and have a friend/car waiting in the base parking lot. A third option is to take the Tramway Trail back to the La Luz trail head (a mile up, you will see signage pointing to the Tramway Trail). Be warned that it's nearly 3 miles form the base of the Tram back to La Luz, and it's a rough trail - rocky and steep in spots -so make sure you have the stamina and water to take this route after hiking to the summit!

it was an amazing hike. Not as hard as we thought it was going to be. we are in our late 50s in good shape and live in Oklahoma. Had no problem with the altitude or grade of the hike. it took us 5 hours to get to the tram from the La
Luz trailhead. after eating lunch at the top of tram, we took it down. The hike from bottom of tram to LA Luz trailhead is about 4 miles. we ordered a Uber ($8.00) and we were back at car parked car in 13 minutes. one of our favorite hikes to date

Nice trail. Thought we lost it a couple of time but followed the rocks and orange ties near the end. The wreckage was pretty spread out but worth it to see. Great scenery the last couple of miles also.

24 days ago

It was hard but rewarding.

We went for a hike and it was easy. The only negative thing was the mountain bikers everywhere and they act as if they rule. Some give warnings when coming up behind you and others don't. Also even with a warning they don't adjust their speed. I would rather hike else where but if you want an easy hike, this is it. Not much shade coverage.

1 month ago

Started off hiking the Tram way trail. I was feeling great when I came across the La Luz trail. I met a really nice couple who informed me that it was a moderate hike up until the rock slide area. They said if you make it to the rock slide you may as well continue to the top. I agree with everyone the rock slide is the toughest part of the hike. I worked my way to the summit and the views from the top where absolutely breathtaking. This was by far one of the toughest hikes I have ever completed but was completely worth the trek. I was too tired to hike back down and like most I took the tram back down. All the hikers I came across were really nice and encouraging as we made our way to the summit. I will certainly be doing this hike again but not until my body has had a chance to recover.

1 month ago

North Crest Trail is a very nice hike with a lot of variety. We started just after 8AM and ended by being picked up by a car at the top of the Sandia Crest. 10.3 miles and pretty amazing elevation gain (as the images will show). It took us just over 5 hours.
My friend from Canada near sea level was a trooper. Since I was stopping to take pictures fairly often he led the way and was in several of my shots. Mid September was a good time to hike because it was cool and the leaves were changing.
The trail is fairly well marked and has some really special views of the Sandia range and Albuquerque as well as mountains to the north, west and east. Enjoy!

We clocked over 10 miles, so I'm not sure where the 7.2 miles came from. It is a beautiful hike. We started at 8:30 am and got to the top at noon.
it was chilly but due to the strenuous climb it felt great. We took the tramway down. It was $15/person

A scenic trail with great views of ABQ and the Sandis. Majority of people where mountain biking, so it is important to check behind you as you hike- but most were thankful when we would step off the trail for them to pass. There are 2 inner paths you can take to shorten the walk if need be, so you can really hike your own hike.

1 month ago

we were able to access the trail fine. although we used another GPS app and it marks the trail at 15.1 mi.

My car got broken into at this trail head. I had nothing out in my car, but my wallet was in my locked glove box. My car was the only car broken into and my wallet and everything in it was stolen. The officers told me this happens at the trail head at least once a week. I'm working with police to try and catch the man, as he tried using my credit card where there was a surveillance vid camera in town. Do not park here or at the surrounding trail heads if you are a woman, even if you aren't alone.

This trail is definitely longer than the app projects. We did a little over 12 miles/6 hours (9:30-3-30). We stayed on track and there were many ppl along the trail. It starts off pretty easy but the terrain and elevation soon catch up to you to make this a challenging trail. This was my first hike completed and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Hopefully the rest are easier since I've completed this massive trek.

1 month ago

1 month ago

Excellent kept trails nice you can walk many different ones and get a full 5 miles in. Lots of bike traffic

Loved it. I made it to the cave on my 3rd try