Albuquerque, NM: Ojito Wilderness

A perfect spring getaway just northwest of Albuquerque, this 4.3-mile loop cruises the base of a towering mesa, follows a classic desert arroyo, and hits a hoodoo hot spot in the Ojito.
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A perfect spring getaway just northwest of Albuquerque, this 4.3-mile loop cruises the base of a towering mesa, follows a classic desert arroyo, and hits a hoodoo hot spot in the Ojito.

The Ojito Wilderness is over 11,000 acres of roadless, trailless New Mexico desert at it’s best. This 4.5-mile loop begins at a primitive trailhead—there are no services in the Ojito so be sure to bring water—and begins by following old doubletrack north from the trailhead. The trail fades as it approaches the base of the Bernalillito Mesa which towers 400 feet above the surrounding desert, and you'll continue cross-crountry for 1 mile north to the richest hoodoo area on this route. It’s another half-mile trail-less trek to the north edge of the mesa where this route turns east before dipping into a wash. Exploring the rocky desert—leaving relic ponderosa, fossils and any archeological remains in the rocky basin undisturbed. This route climbs up and over a small hill before turning south at the edge of the Arroyo La Jara at mile 3.4 and following it’s rugged contour just over 1 mile back to the trailhead.
Access to the Ojito is difficult or impossible when roads are wet, but the summers are very hot and dry. Bring plenty of water and try to avoid hiking during the mid-day heat of summer.
-Mapped by Rick Schneck

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.0

Waypoints

OJT001

Location: 35.495388, -106.9213943

There aren't any services at the pull-out parking lot where this hike begins. Follow the trail north through rough desert toward the base of the Bernalillito Mesa.

OJT002

Location: 35.503793, -106.926198

About 1 mile from the trailhead is a hoodoo-filled area below the mesa. Stop for some photos or to rest in the shade of a few of New Mexico's lowest-elevation ponderosa pine.

OJT003

Location: 35.510256, -106.9294596

After rounding the north edge of the mesa this route heads cross-country to the east. It's easy to pick your way across the dry landscape--watch for petrified wood.

OJT004

Location: 35.5076185, -106.923902

Instead of climbing the hill to the south, this route follows the bottom of this rocky wash for 0.4 miles before turning south.

OJT005

Location: 35.5073565, -106.9183445

This wide, open flat provides plenty of space for an idyllic overnight. Though this hike is short, there are so many treasures to discover, it's easy to stretch the exploration into a weekend trip.

OJT006

Location: 35.506518, -106.9124222

The Arroyo la Jara marks the eastern edge of this loop. Just follow it's contour south until you hit the road.

Trailhead

Location: 35.4951283, -106.9217777

The Bernalillito Mesa's sheer eastern edge looms above the parking area.

Ojito Parking

Location: 35.4954033, -106.92173

Looking north and east across the Ojito desert from the parking area.

Hoodoos

Location: 35.5026401, -106.925168

Desert

Location: 35.5104103, -106.9210205

There's no trail across the desert, but it is open and dry which makes it easy to pick a path.

Campsite

Location: 35.5074263, -106.9184303

This wide, open flat area would make a good spot for an overnight, but with no water in sight, you'd have to pack your own.

The Way Back

Location: 35.4997292, -106.9150162

Almost back to the cars

Location: 35.4955788, -106.9169617