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New Mexico Backpacking Trails

Albuquerque: Pino Trail

This 11.2-mile trek runs through a sweet high-desert canyon, connecting stark cactus country and pretty fir highlands. Pack extra water for this dry hike.

Santa Fe, NM: Atalaya Trail

This challenging 5.8-mile hike climbs through pinon scrub and rust-red ponderosa pine before topping out 2,000 feet above Santa Fe’s adobe sprawl.

Albuquerque: Nambe Lake

This 6-mile out-and-back adventure serves up mountain forests, a peaceful creek, and an unbeatable lunch spot on the banks of a small alpine lake.

Santa Fe, NM: Gavilan Trail

A lung-burning 2,000-foot gain in 2.5 miles rewards with sweet ridgeline views of the Taos Mountains and Wheeler Peak. This dayhike runs 6.6 miles round-trip.

Santa Fe: Santa Fe Baldy

Knock off two Santa Fe must-dos–Lake Katherine, the most beautiful lake in NM, and illustrious Santa Fe Baldy—in one long day on this strenuous 15.4-mile out-and-back.

Albuquerque: Elena Gallegos Short Loop

Save this 5.5-mile loop in the city foothills for after work and see for yourself the watermelon-pink sun- sets that nearby Sandia Mountain is named after.

Albuquerque: 10K Loop

Thanks to an abandoned highway plan, this close-to-town 6.3-mile loop remains rugged and wild–a perfect quick escape for summer evenings and Saturday mornings.

Albuquerque: Embudo-Whitewash Loop

Move from scrubby desert to forested foothills on this 9.5-mile loop just minutes from downtown. Pack ample water and a raptor ID book.

Santa Fe: Caballo Mountain

Trek 14.4 miles on less-traveled trails to a 10,000-foot summit over the Valles Caldera, a giant volcanic bowl in the shadow of the Jemez Mountains.

Albuquerque: North Apache Kid Trail

Seeking solitude? Test your compass skills as you venture 9.4 miles into a canyon of recovering burn zones and trickling springs in the San Mateo Mountains.

Albuquerque, NM: Piedra Lisa South

Climb through the sandy canyons and shrubby ridgelines of the Sandia Mountain Wilderness on this 5-mile out-and-back outside Albuquerque.

Albuquerque: Gila Loop

Lush river canyons meet high desert mesas on this 23.7-mile, 3-day loop in the Gila Wilderness.

Santa Fe: Hamilton Mesa Trail

This 11.2-mile, high-country dayhike crisscrosses rolling mountain meadows with stellar views of the tallest peaks in the Pecos Wilderness.

Albuquerque, NM: Vacas Trail

Water is abundant here, compared to the arid high desert below. This 15.2-miler links fish-filled creeks with the forested hills of San Pedro Parks Wilderness.

Albuquerque: Spirit Lake

This 11.4-mile out-and-back tours deep forests and a high saddle filled with wildflowers. Pack lunch and a good book to take full advantage of Spirit’s scenic shoreline.

Santa Fe: Mesa Trail to Upper Alamo

This 10.4-mile out-and-back surveys a sunbleached mesa en route to a backcountry camp in the Jemez Mountains of Bandelier National Monument.

Continental Divide Trail: Mexico Border to Hachita, New Mexico

Cruise the desert on this 50.5-mile leg of the Continental Divide Trail through the Chihuahua Desert in the Bootheel region of New Mexico.

Santa Fe: Rio Santa Barbara Middle Fork Trail

This 15-mile riverside hike is located in the southern tip of New Mexico’s highest range, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Albuquerque, NM: North Mystery Trail (Faulty Trail)

Hike 11.2 miles and learn some local place names on this out-and-back to a secluded meadow high in the Sandia Mountains.

Albuquerque: Embudito Trail to South Sandia Peak

Dayhike 5 to 15 miles through the golden hills above the city. The longer haul leads to a peak with fine views of the Sandias.

Albuquerque: Whitewater Creek via the Catwalk

Set a weekend aside for this challenging 19.7-mile lasso loop (with numerous campsites) that connects two pinched gorges with suspended bridges.

Santa Fe: Enchanted Forest (Winter Route)

The snow-draped Enchanted Forest is the backdrop for this 5.3-mile ski or snowshoe trip that offers several overlooks and route options outside Taos.

Silver City, NM: Willow Creek

Sample the mesas and meadows of the Gila Wilderness.

Albuquerque: North Crest-Survey Trail Loop

Ride the Sandia Crest on this 5.8-mile loop that connects a scenic ridgetop, fragrant evergreens, and postcard views above Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Crest Trail (South)

Balance this 13.5-mile hinterland hike up the southern spine of the Sandia Mountains with a civilized finish–microbrews at the High Finance Restaurant.

Albuquerque, NM: Bernalillito Mesa

Wander by petroglyphs and fossils on this 6-mile high-desert adventure through the rugged canyons Ojito Wilderness.

Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Crest Trail (North)

Ride the tram to the top of the Sandia Crest, then tackle a 4,000-foot descent past aspen groves and juniper-dotted landscapes on this 12-mile shuttle hike.

Albuquerque, NM: Hawk Watch Trail

Wind past parched arroyo and panoramic views on this 3.2-mile out-and-back that leads to a seasonal bird-watching Mecca in Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains.

Santa Fe, NM: Rito Del Padre-Chimayosos Loop

Venture deep into the Pecos Wilderness on this 23.7-mile, three-day hike into a cirque of high peaks in the Sangre de Cristos.

Albuquerque, NM: Gila Crest South to Hummingbird Saddle

This 9.8-mile out-and-back connects old-growth evergreens and the Mogollon Mountains, a series of 10,000-foot peaks in Gila National Forest.

Albuquerque, NM: North Crest Trail to Ojo del Orno Canyon

Winding past steep canyon walls and ancient fossil beds, this 6.6-mile out-and-back in the Sandia Mountains rewards with an overlook across the Rio Puerco Valley.

Santa Fe, NM: Santa Barbara Campground to Aspen Basin

This 42-mile trek through the picturesque Pecos Wilderness high country features towering peaks, alpine lakes, and lots of wildlife (marmots, bighorn sheep, and more).

Bandelier National Monument: Capulin Canyon

Dip into river-cut canyons and explore the homeland of the Ancestral Pueblo on this 19.8-mile trip in New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument.

Santa Fe, NM: Lake Katherine to Spirit Lake

Introducing the Pecos: this 15.5-miler, cruises classic trails in the Sangre De Cristo range for a peek at 12,000-foot peaks, alpine lakes, and an intro to the 223,667-acre wilderness in Santa Fe’s backyard.

Santa Fe, NM: Stewart Lake

Wind through wildflowers and climb more than 2,000 feet on this 12-mile out-and-back in the Pecos Wilderness that visits an alpine lake below Santa Fe Baldy.

Albuquerque, NM: El Malpais Big Tubes

Be prepared, you might spend all day exploring tubes and cave entrances in this cairn-laden route in El Malpais National Monument’s Bandara Lava Flow.

Farmington, NM: De-na-zin Wash

There aren’t any trails in the De-na-zin Wilderness, but this 3.9-mile route scours northwest New Mexico’s wash bottoms in search of petrified wood caches and hoodoo-filled ravines.

Albuquerque, NM: Spence Hot Springs

Pack a suit and soak in the soothing waters of Spence Hot Springs on this one mile out-and-back in the secluded Jemez Valley.

Santa Fe, NM: Chamisa Trail

Wander ponderosa pines through the Sangre de Cristo foothills to a serene river scene just outside Santa Fe.

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.

Santa Fe, NM: Valle Vidal

Explore the “Yellowstone of the Southwest” on this 28.4-mile loop that links a series of meadows, creek crossings, and a canyon in New Mexico’s Valle Vidal.

Wheeler Peak Wilderness, NM: Wheeler Peak Loop

Connect alpine lakes and tag three summits on this wildflower- and wildlife-packed loop.

Los Alamos, NM: Mitchell Trail

Climb the steep, fire-scarred hillsides of Santa Fe National Forest on the 2.4-mile Mitchell Trail for a rewarding view of Los Alamos and the far-off Pecos Wilderness.

Santa Fe, NM: Horseshoe Lake

Follow a primitive trail–and keep an eye out for alpine-loving marmots and big horn–on this 11.5-mile overnight to Horseshoe Lake in the Carson National Forest’s Pecos Wilderness.

Santa Fe, NM: Pecos Baldy Lake

Cruise the panorama-filled meadows and admire the mountain views that make this 7.6-mile out-and-back to Pecos Baldy Lake one of the Pecos’ most popular hikes.

Petroglyph National Monument: Rinconada Canyon

More than 1,200 smiling faces, geometric shapes, and animal figures carved into Rinconada Canyon’s basalt boulders are the highlight of this easy 2.25-mile loop in Albuquerque’s Petroglyph National Monument.

Carson National Forest: Wheeler Peak

Climb to the crown of the Sangre de Cristo Range outside Taos, New Mexico.

Pecos Wilderness, NM: Truchas Traverse Triple-Header

Hit three 13,000-foot peaks in the Pecos Wilderness, the wildest wilderness south of Glacier.

Albuquerque, NM: Piedra Lisa North

Climb 2,200 feet through the Sandia Mountain Wilderness on this 7.5-mile out-and-back that tops out with Rincon Ridge’s sweeping city and mountain views.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Carlsbad Cavern

Drop 750 feet underground through the bat-cave entrance of Carlsbad Cavern on this 2.4-mile hike that combines hundreds of impressive displays: stalactite-dripping nooks and crannies, massive domes, gypsum deposits, and fanciful rock formations.

Albuquerque, NM: Gila Middle Fork Loop

Get your feet wet on this 11.5-miler that loops through a canyon carved by the Middle Fork Gila River. You’ll cross the river several times and land at a hot springs before loop end.

Albuquerque, NM: Red Canyon/Spruce Spring Loop, Cibola NF

Escape Sandia crowds on this often empty hike past wildflowers and berries, and keep an eye out for wildlife like bears.

Albuquerque, NM: Red Canyon/Spruce Spring Loop

This is a nice well traveled loop in the less traveled Manzano Mountains. You can do the loop in either direction and great views, diverse vegetation, and maybe a few wild animals await!

Lincoln National Forest, NM: Canyons, Creeks and Springs

On this 7.6-miler ideal for a leisurely overnight or longer day trip, trek through a high-desert wonderland en route to spectacular western panoramas from a meadow-topped mesa.

Santa Fe, NM: Alamo to Capulin Canyon Loop

Climb across mesas and up canyon walls to a cave full of pictographs.

Albuquerque, NM: Agua Sarca Canyon Loop

Push from the depths of Agua Sarca Canyon to sky-scraping vistas atop North Sandia Rim on this 7-mile loop east of Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM: North Sandia Peak via Sandia Crest Trail

Summit the Southwest’s most European mountain.

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.

Dayhikes Santa Fe

Get four easy escapes outside of Santa Fe with this PRO bundle and savor the high-mountain air and alpine vistas over secluded lakes.

Backpacking Santa Fe

Four prime backpacking trips will lead you to solitude and backcountry camping with this PRO Bundle of hikes near Santa Fe.

Continental Divide Trail: Arrastre Site to FR 149, NM

Snag a taste of some of the country’s darkest skies on this 14.6 miles overnight shuttle hike in the Gila National Forest.

Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Crest Trail

Want the ultimate challenge? Traverse the entire Sandia in one marathon day on this 27.1-mile point-to-point that runs across the Sandia spine, racking up nearly 12,000 feet of elevation change.

Albuquerque, NM: La Luz Trail

Irresistible to trail runners and hikers from all over the world, this classic, 7.1-mile climb to the Sandia Crest features sweeping vistas and challenging terrain.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Pino Trail

This 11.2-mile trek runs through a sweet high-desert canyon, connecting stark cactus country and pretty fir highlands. Pack extra water for this dry hike.

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New Mexico Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM: Atalaya Trail

This challenging 5.8-mile hike climbs through pinon scrub and rust-red ponderosa pine before topping out 2,000 feet above Santa Fe’s adobe sprawl.

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New Mexico Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM: Gavilan Trail

A lung-burning 2,000-foot gain in 2.5 miles rewards with sweet ridgeline views of the Taos Mountains and Wheeler Peak. This dayhike runs 6.6 miles round-trip.

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New Mexico Santa Fe

Santa Fe: Santa Fe Baldy

Knock off two Santa Fe must-dos–Lake Katherine, the most beautiful lake in NM, and illustrious Santa Fe Baldy—in one long day on this strenuous 15.4-mile out-and-back.

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Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque: 10K Loop

Thanks to an abandoned highway plan, this close-to-town 6.3-mile loop remains rugged and wild–a perfect quick escape for summer evenings and Saturday mornings.

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Grassy Slope
New Mexico Santa Fe

Santa Fe: Caballo Mountain

Trek 14.4 miles on less-traveled trails to a 10,000-foot summit over the Valles Caldera, a giant volcanic bowl in the shadow of the Jemez Mountains.

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