Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Peak Loop

Summit a peak via open slopes and a wooded canyon on this hike with 5.5- or 13.7-mile options.
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Summit a peak via open slopes and a wooded canyon on this hike with 5.5- or 13.7-mile options.

This is perhaps the most beautiful canyon on the west side of the Sandias. The vegetation is lush and a city escape is only miles from the trailhead.

This is a loop hike (one of the hardest in the area), but you can certainly make a day of it by just going as far as the TWA crash site. This is an area where a small plane went down in 1955 and a memorial is in place. Please respect the area as you would any hallowed ground. It is roughly 3.75 miles from the trailhead to the crash site.

If you choose to continue from here to the La Luz trail, BE WARNED, you will be on a little used faint trail that is hard to find in some places. The path becomes very steep here and once you commit to it, it would be steep to go back.

Once you reach the crest, it's an easy walk to Sandia Peak and its aerial tram (complete with restaurant!). Easy: Ride down to a shuttle car. Better: Continue south on the Crest Trail to the Pino Trail to finish the 14-mile loop.

-Mapped by Bill Velasquez

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 22.1

Waypoints

SPL001

Location: 35.163231, -106.469879

Start at the Elena Gallegos trailhead. There's a water fountain here.

SPL002

Location: 35.168191, -106.468289

Follow trail 230.

SPL003

Location: 35.171112, -106.466815

Cross over the boundary to FS land. This is the entrance gate to Domingo Baca Trail.

SPL004

Location: 35.173237, -106.467029

Several user trails cross the main trail. Just make sure you keep heading in the right direction and stay on the main trail.

SPL005

Location: 35.176659, -106.46742

Look back and catch some nice views of the city from here.

SPL006

Location: 35.178824, -106.464318

Posts along the way help you find the route.

SPL007

Location: 35.180088, -106.461925

Old rock house ruins.

SPL008

Location: 35.180924, -106.460644

Turn to creek bottom. You can turn too early and not be affected, just wetter, but don't turn too late.

SPL009

Location: 35.181455, -106.459972

Leave creek bottom. This is the spot where you head up to the trail that will take you the rest of the way.

SPL010

Location: 35.181606, -106.459437

Good Path. From this point on to the crash site, the path mostly follows creek bottoms and is in fairly good shape.

SPL011

Location: 35.192982, -106.443067

There is some large rocks to scale here. If they are wet it can be challenging. It's possible to take a route around it, which our mapper prefers.

SPL012

Location: 35.193148, -106.443531

If you detoured around the slippery rocks, find the trail again here.

SPL013

Location: 35.194989, -106.442575

TWA Crash Site. You will see a lot of wreckage from this point on. Please respect the area as you would any hallowed ground. Many people lost their lives here. Do not remove anything from the site.

SPL014

Location: 35.196213, -106.442069

Follow a faint trail up towards La Luz.

SPL015

Location: 35.198848, -106.442632

This waypoint will help you locate the right route.

SPL016

Location: 35.199428, -106.442368

You'll have some great views as you make your way up.

SPL017

Location: 35.200371, -106.441945

The pitch is steep. Not suitable for people who have problems with heights.

SPL018

Location: 35.201572, -106.441

You break out in to a relatively flat meadow here just before finding La Luz.

SPL019

Location: 35.202006, -106.440161

Start looking for the La Luz Trail

SPL020

Location: 35.20251, -106.440181

Find La Luz Trail and turn right (southeast) to follow it to the restaurant.

SPL021

Location: 35.196983, -106.434899

This is the end of the La Luz portion of the trail. Head towards the restaurant for that beer!

SPL022

Location: 35.196105, -106.434434

Restaurant. Stop here for a microbrew and a green chile burger!! Call ahead to make sure that they will be open when you pass by. Either take the tram down from here to your shuttle car, or continue for the full loop.

SPL023

Location: 35.194841, -106.43306

Find the marker for the southbound portion of your trip on the Crest Trail #130.

SPL024

Location: 35.192868, -106.4314

Re-enter the wilderness.

SPL025

Location: 35.168887, -106.414345

This is the intersection of Pino #140 and the Crest Trail. Head down Pino. The trail is easy to follow.

SPL026

Location: 35.167708, -106.436383

This is a nice spot for a tent. Unfortunately, there isn't any water nearby.

SPL027

Location: 35.165271, -106.456257

Wilderness boundary

SPL028

Location: 35.165101, -106.456891

Trail 140 Kiosk.This is the point where you enter the Elena again. Follow #140 back to the parking area.

TWA Memorial

Location: 35.195216, -106.442447

This is the crash site memorial. It lists the names of the victims. May they rest in peace. Respect the area!

Tram Car

Location: 35.200138, -106.442093

You'll see the tram wires and you might even see the tram cars pass by.

City Views

Location: 35.200951, -106.441475

Enjoy views of the city and canyon below you.

La Luz Views of the City

Location: 35.19717, -106.435455

Now that you are on "good trail" again, stop and enjoy the views!

Your Quest!

Location: 35.163448, -106.469566

The Sandia Mountain range, which hugs the eastern edge of Albuqueruqe, will be your challenge for this hike.

Ruins

Location: 35.180134, -106.461914

A small Rock house can be found here.

Path out of creek bed

Location: 35.1814, -106.45993

Look for this path out of the creek bed.

Views

Location: 35.183025, -106.413666

Enjoy views of the east side