Explore the most popular forest trails near Placitas with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Fun hike! Some very steep inclines, and some rough footing, which to me is what makes it fun. Beautiful views. Must pay very close attention to the trail as it's not really marked and can be confusing in spots. It's nice that it is shady for long stretches.

If you zoom in on the Agua Sarca map you can see and follow the full route to the intersection with the North Crest Trail. (Note: at the early Y in the trail you want to go left and at the stone fireplace you want to go to the right.) From the parking lot this is about 3 miles one way. You can then make a loop taking the North Crest Trail back (6.7 miles) or use the Ojo del Orno shortcut (zoom in, it’s the unnamed path straight back to the parking lot that cuts off the big curve in the North Crest Trail). Ojo del Orno is 0.8 miles long and takes you down 1000 ft over some loose rock but it cuts off 2.5 miles. Of course you could do the hike in the other direction. A much longer loop hike would be to continue on the North Crest Trail after Agua Sarca to the Ellis Trail to Osha Loop to Penasco Blanco back to the North Crest Trail (0.7 miles into the return loop above). This loop with Ojo del Orno seems to be at least 11 miles and goes from 6350 ft to almost 9800 ft. Yeah, it’s the one I did. Nice hike with plenty of high country meadow and forest and you go through Osha Spring.

We have done many hikes on our road trip thus far and this was by far the worst hike we've done. There were many times where the trail was completely covered by bushes and the Del Agua loop especially had a lot of bugs. I got stung by something while climbing down rocks on the Del Agua loop. A lot of steep uphills for a moderate trail, and we could not have been happier to be out of the trail when we finished.

This was terrible I don’t know why it has good reviews. Was super steep and slippery uphill for the first mile, especially for a moderate trail. Both parts were poorly marked and we wandered off the trail a few times before having to use this map to find it again. Parts of Del Agua were completely covered in bushes and we had to sprint through them. Anti climatic peak, we didn’t even know we had reached the turn around. 0/10 would not recommend or do again.

Easy trail with outstanding views.

Great hiking trail. Nice views. The first mile is moderately difficult as it consists of a fairly steep incline, narrow trail with a sizeable drop-off on the side along with loose gravel. We had to stop occasionally to catch our breath. The second half was easier, especially since you go on a different trail (Del Agua) on the way downhill since it's a loop. The trail is fairly well-marked. You will see a sign for Del Agua, just make sure to turn right (where the sign points out Del Agua) as that is the second part of the loop. Towards the end, you will turn right into a trail called Tightrope, which ends up into Piedra Lisa and right where you started. The Del Agua trail has slightly confusing parts as it splits into two smaller trails but those usually join up fairly quickly back into one trail so it's fairly easy to follow along.

There were a few bugs, esp when we got higher up in elevation and around the mossy areas. But we didn't really need bug spray. We also didn't see any bears or rattlesnakes. Although there is some shade in some areas, I still recommend wearing sunscreen.

My only complaint is that during certain parts of the trail, I had to push away some small trees and shrubs and they were grown along the trail. Also there was quite a bit of cacti really close to and along the trail so watch out for those.

When you drive, there is a mile or two of dirt roads (follow google maps gps it's very accurate) before you get to the trailhead. The dirt roads are a bit rocky and there is a hill you have to watch out for. After going down that hill, keep going until you see a small bathroom stall.

We took our dog (2.5 yr old cattle dog mix) and she did fabulous. It's a great hike for canines. Took us 2-2.5 hours to hike.

Enjoyed this hike with my family on Mother’s Day. Beautiful views. My sons 9 and 11 enjoyed the trek as well.

The Piedra Lisa part of the hike was really nice with a lot of variation in foliage and trees, however the Del Agua trail was really convoluted and hard to follow, with multiple small trails all seeming to lead to the right spot but don’t in actuality. The trail certainly lived up to its name because it was overrun by a stream in the upper parts of the trail. Overall an enjoyable hike with a good length, just make sure to keep to the left at the beginning of the Piedra Lisa, for if you keep right you’ll end up climbing up rocks through a natural arroyo, something I discovered for myself.

hiking
3 months ago

This is one of my favorites now. It’s a pretty good elevation gain but feels less strenuous than La Luz because it’s a longer trail so the climb is spread out. It’s a good blend of covered forest and open scrub. Probably a good idea to wear pants as that scrub takes a few layers off. There is still snow on the trail on the top 2 or 3 miles (March 30) but micro spikes weren’t a necessity. There are a few spots with spectacular views but most of the crest trail is set back a bit from the edge - unlike the top of La Luz. I hiked from the bottom to the tram (a little over 12 miles) in about 6.5 hours. Don’t plan on catching an Uber if your want to hop off around mile 10. Better to have someone pick you up or just walk the extra few cushy miles to the tram. It’s a pretty good workout so bring plenty of water and some poles. Oh and I saw a bobcat which was awesome! Even better - saw no bears : )

hiking
3 months ago

Super rocky but beautiful views

Day hike perfection for me and the dog. Going up PL then down DA is my preferred route. Nice climb up with good views along the way. Down Del Aqua is a hoot with some rocky sections that take all fours and it lives up to its name as it runs with or along the stream.

Great hike!

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful Trail, but wasn't extremely well marked...Also, pretty sure that it was longer than 3.5 miles...Or maybe we got off the trail somewhere? The views were fantastic! Definitely worth the hike! The road going up is rough, so make sure you have a worthy car!

For a moderate trail, it sure seemed hard! On the Piedra Lisa side, it was slow going because of all the loose rock and it was quite steep. The Del Agua side was quite fun, with lots of boulders to scramble down and varied landscape. Both sides offer amazing views and unique hiking.

hiking
6 months 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.

Was a good hike, but take a durable car up. The road is rough to get to the trail.

hiking
8 months ago

This is a hard trail. Steep and more steep but is one of my favorites.

hiking
8 months ago

I loved this hike. I started on the North Crest and finished the loop in the same spot that I started following the Agua Sarca Trail. I didnt record it but will soon. I hiked the first half and met the Agua Sarca Trail which is a there and back with a long tail that is very hard due to navagation. There were definitely hard spots on both! Steep rocky terrain, but its well worth the pain just for the PT, views and pics! After hiking half way up the NCT I followed a few well placed cairns and a bearing and found my way to the Agua Sarca Trail. I wouldnt recommend this way for someone who doesnt know how to read a map and compass. Basic land nav. is a must on this one. I needed to recheck my bearing several times during the portion. Again I was using a map and didnt have this wonderful app on this phone, but easy enough. I hiked a bit thru the bush. The trail was hard to see but manageable. I finished where I started at the Agua Sarca, North Crest and Tight Rope TH's. Take this variation, its a great hike with amazing pictures. I recommend a lunch and all of your own water, cooking as well, because its sparse on this one. I carried a pack that was roughly 30lbs with 4l of water, my lunch, my cookware and a few other SHTF items just incase. I do recommend a lunch. It took me about 7 or so hours. Ill take this one again soon and track it juat incase it hasent been... but Im sure it has. I hope this helps! See out out there.

rough climb, cool views but the top lookout is hard to find and you have to battle the trees

The Del Agua trail was not marked well, we actually took a wrong turn went left instead of right down so don't go along fence line. I suppose it comes out at parking area. Since it was our first time we hiked back up to find trail. This happened about half way down past the crawling over the big rocks. Would have given more stars if the path was better defined.

Don't miss the turn to the left before the water container or you will mountain climb like me and my dog did. As well as another couple and their 2 dogs. Moderate becomes hard in a hurry. There was a trail this route, as others must have made the same mistake. I will try again and judge when I make the correct turn. They need to mark it more clearly. I was one of 4 people I met who missed that critical junction that day.

Hike this trail 4 times already. Love it. Just right length and elevation.

Great summer hike with lots of shade.

wonderfully groomed trail

Spectacular view on both sides at the peak of the saddle. Next best view to the top of the Sandia

Pretty good information on the app.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Some good views, water for the dogs in streams, but a few spots the route can get confusing and I ended up off trail for a bit. Bring a lot of water and when it says 'hard' trust it is, you're gonna end up stopping a decent bit. Some bear scat at the top but nothing other than that. Made it to North Crest trail and turned around and came back - use a stick coming down to save your ankles. There are better trails with better markings and consistent views in the Sandias hence the 3 stars. Also, trails aren't dog parks...PLEASE LEASH YOUR DOGS!!!!

This mid-June hike in early morning offers plentiful shade opportunities and comfortable temperatures. Two areas with water trickles. Standout elevation transitions. Grand views of the Rio Grande Valley and the forest fire smoke filled Jemez Mtns. Views of North Sandia peak and Agua Sarca canyon are wonderfully close, covered with pine and scrub oak, lined with jagged granite outcroppings. Started the hike at Road 445 Piedra Lisa Trailhead. Continued to the 7600 foot elevation and returned on the Del Agua Trail. Watch for turkey! Do this moderate hike. Water sporadically available but filter.

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