dogs on leash



nature trips

wild flowers



trail running

kid friendly

mountain biking

horseback riding

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).

1 day ago

nice! big rocks , challenging

4 days ago

This trail rocks! Did the full 13.5 miles in 5.25 hours. We hit the trailhead at 1:30 pm, got to the top by 4:15, stopped long enough for a quick snack, then jogged to the bottom. I was at my car by 6:45! Great ass kicker!

Be safe and have fun.

Tough trail, lots of boulders but with nice breaks of relatively level sand. Lightly trafficked so you’re not passing or yielding to other hikers all the time

Nice easy hike. If you want to avoid the bikers I recommend taking the side trails. Very pleasant overall.

5 days ago

I did La Luz today, March 17, 2018. I am from Indiana, a Flatlander they call us Hoosiers. I am glad I took advice to get poles and microspikes while visiting Albuquerque last year. They were invaluable today. I traveled from Tram connection trail to La Luz and up to the tram. The views are inspiring and I learned much from a local who hiked with me. The different biomes that one travels though on this hike are a welcome feeling as I felt as though I enter different forests all on one hike. Take time to look back at where you came from to see many formations. Always be careful and bring spikes when attempting while snow and ice are still on the trails, as they were today. I saw one person at the tram fall and cut their hand open and suggest that they wished they had had my poles and spikes. If one were to fall on the LaLuz, it could result in death. Be careful and be rewarded.

11 days ago

This trail kicked my ass and scared me stiff on that last two miles to the tram. I started at 1 pm and didn’t get to the tram until 6:30. I had to do the scariest part in the dark. Make sure you leave enough time to get to the tram before dark and bring poles and micro spikes if there is snow and ice. Seriously. People die on this trail from falls.

Found this trail by accident and loved it! Someone told me you can go 1/2 mile into the cave.

Very nice hike. Easy and relaxing.

16 days ago

A truly challenging hike, not for the faint of heart! Great path to the 1955 Plane Wreckage memorial. Be aware that it can be a bit difficult to distinguish the trail at times.

This should be designated as a bicycle trail as the number of cyclists greatly outnumber hikers, at least midday on a Sunday. It's hard to hike when you have to get off the trail every minute or two to let bikers (who ignore the signs that say bikers yield to hikers) pass. This was our first time on the trail and had a difficult time following the map because the trails are not well-marked. There are a few places where two or three trails branch off and there are no signs telling which is the one you want. The map and signs are great if you know where you're going already, but not helpful for a first timer. The scenery is nice but it's not an enjoyable hiking experience.

16 days ago

Did this hike yesterday. It was my first time ever doing a hike. I was born and raised in FL and have been here for a week so the altitude certainly made breathing a little difficult. In the canyon there is still a good bit of snow and I had no poles or spikes but I made it to the top. Beautiful views throughout. Took the tram down and Uber to car.

Nice trail, but absolutely no trail markers or signage. Lots of forks. Take your GPS.

Done 2/4/18. Great weather for the hike. The last 2.75 miles we’re snowpack that had melted and frozen. Pretty slippery in spots, yak tracks would’ve been the bees knees.

27 days ago

Great hike! The high altitude makes the last bit of it difficult but it’s worth it.

Great hike!

Great hike! Lots of views and super enjoyable!

1 month ago

Great hike! It's a steady incline the whole way but easier than we expected. There's currently snow on the second half, but it's still passable with poles.

1 month ago

Gorgeous views throughout most the hike! Quit a workout.

Definitely a challenging but rewarding hike! A lot of climbing and steep elevation near the crash site, but worth it!

Fun and easy hike!

Beautiful Hike! Make sure to bring a mask and flashlight if you want to explore the cave.

Wonderful/ beautiful hike, very steep towards the end of the hike. Continuing past the crash site will take you to the top of the La Luz. Would highly recommend.

It’s not so nice during the winter when everything around is brown.

More like a walk than a hike but very enjoyable

This was hands down one of my favorite hikes that I have done in the Albuquerque area. The hike is challenging, but you feel so rewarded when completed. Looking up above and seeing the Tram was really surreal! The TWA plane crash stretches up the mountain at the end of the hike for quite a ways...It is very sad, but also very interesting. Take lots of snacks and water!

1 month ago

Fairly easy hike. Enjoyed seeing the falls frozen over. Step carefully at the falls as it was icy and slushy there.

1 month ago

Perfect afternoon hike!
NOTE- the old approach trail is CLOSED. Enter via new trail directly across from the parking lot!!!!
Do not use the old trail!

1 month ago

Very rewarding to complete! Awesome views!

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

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