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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).

Not the prettiest place in the world, but it's quiet and very interesting. Always something to enjoy. I love the massive rocks & the bright moss, beautiful dessert foliage & fall colors in the canyon.
We did some geo-caching here with the kids too. 2 were duds but one was a good little cache. But really it's fun to just treasure hunt

great adventure.

I love this trail!!

Little over a half mile from parking to the cave. Make sure you take a dust mask if you go over the half wall.know your physical limitations in the cave. My son and I had a blast.

Well maintained, but a very popular trail. Everyone there was nice and the mountain bikers were well behaved for trail sharing. However, pet owners either don't pick up poop, or they bag it then leave the bags along the trail. We saw at least 10 bags of crap.

hiking
17 days ago

This was the kind of trail that, for me, taught me a few things. At just shy of 7 hours, it was pretty grueling. In fact, the last 4 hours were grueling. 2 caveats to that: I’m from sea level. I hiked to the South peak and back, covering about 15 miles a few days earlier.

Another important point about the North Crest Trail was that the road to the trailhead was too washed out for my mother in laws low profile car to get me all the way there, so I had to hike an extra 1/4 mi or so at the beginning.

By the end, my knees were hurting pretty badly every time I lifted my legs up to take a step and even worse whenever I had to walk down hill or, God forbid, down anything that looked like a step. For the last 2 miles I was pretty focused on completion and was leaning VERY heavily on two sticks that I had picked up along the way.

My plan was to walk down La Luz when I got there. Ha! The arrogance! The fallback plan was to walk along the ridge the additional 2 miles and take the tram down. No way I could have walked any further than the peak. I ended up hitching a ride back to ABQ from the parking lot at the peak.

So... I learned to not try to save weight while traveling if I plan to hike, I absolutely need walking sticks for any kind of serious hike. I learned that a 4,000 foot gain qualifies as serious. I probably should have been fresher for this and not recovering from a hike earlier in the week. And included Tylenol in my day pack.

I’d do it again though. The trail was empty and beautiful.

Incredible hike, this was the first time my hands have swollen up, but just be sure to have water and appropriate snacks, there are several areas to pull off and rest at scenic overlooks, and when you make it to the top, just wait until sunsets to take the tram down and you will witness a marvelous transition.

Nice way to spend an afternoon

hiking
21 days ago

Great New Years Day hike.

Great New Year’s hike, no snow as of yet.

cool trail

Beautiful scenery... only went halfway up due to a late start but plan on hiking it again!

Excellent hike with beautiful scenery but definitely challenging. There are a lot of vertical and rocky climbs where the trail is moderately technical and just plain rough. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the extra energy to finish!

Hiked it twice in late July of 2015 and again in 2016 from the lower tram to the upper tram. The first time at the age of 73 with my two sons and then with my eldest son and his eldest son aged 12. A great hike both times despite the fact that we got caught in an electrical storm half way up the rock slide that must be traversed 17 Times. I would rate it hard, because of the rock slide crossings, if you don’t have trekking poles, easy enough if you do.

hiking
28 days ago

Make sure the tram is working before you leave if you plan on taking it down! We parked a car at the top beforehand so we could take our dogs (the tram doesn’t allow them). Great hike, bring lots of water.

trail running
30 days ago

Hammer time with a memorable finish. This trail has a great mix of open space, foothills, tight woodsy sections, great views and incredible location. It's an odd hike in that you never really summit anything but still get a solid hike. I kept a solid pace and I think it took me about 2 hours to reach the TWA crash. For reference, the memorial is just below the tram cables.

A challenging hike up to the TWA wreckage. Lots of water in the stream with some ice. Definitely cold in the shade, so bundle up if you are hiking in wintertime!

An easy start followed by increasingly narrow and difficult terrain, but worth the effort for the view and lack of congestion.

Good clean trail......but not alot of thrills. ......good If your walking your dogs, or rehabbing an injury, or with young children........

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