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.

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Most folks stick to the Sandia’s western slopes—closer to town—which means solitude is all yours on this 11.2-mile roundtrip to an 8,685-foot peak on the range’s east side. Traverse north through shady, conifer-covered canyons (home to great horned owls), then drop 550 feet in .7 mile to Cañon Madera. Meander through Lagunita Seca, a golden meadow (mile 5.1), before the .5-mile climb to Palomas Peak, ringed by limestone cliffs.

-Mapped by Bill Velasquez


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 18.0



Location: 35.181431, -106.377098

Head N in pungent coniferous forest on Faulty Trail (locally known as North Mystery Trail, because no one knows who built it); diamond blazes carved into tree trunks mark way


Location: 35.187759, -106.377899

L @ T on saddle; go W, then SW for ascent on diamond-blazed trail


Location: 35.187881, -106.3825

Climb steepens as NE views open up for the first time; catch glimpse of forested hills dropping down to expansive valley


Location: 35.190022, -106.383301

Follow ridgeline N on cushy pine needles; gopher snakes bask on rocks. Look W for views of Tecolote Peak


Location: 35.197227, -106.38533

Continue N through Tecolote Canyon’s lush woods; tecolote means owl, so keep an eye out; you may spot a great horned owl


Location: 35.213112, -106.386597

Trail passes under power line, then briefly veers W


Location: 35.215439, -106.387802

Cross seasonal creek in Cañon Madera (“wood canyon”); ascent ahead


Location: 35.222569, -106.386337

Trail cuts L (W) on small saddle


Location: 35.223629, -106.392502

Pass another diamond blaze cut into tree trunk; continue SW


Location: 35.227638, -106.399486

Emerge at Lagunita Seca (“small dry lake”), golden meadow beneath Palomas Peak; retrace route. Peakbaggers: To add 8,685-ft. summit, go W for 500 ft. to T with Palomas Cliffs Trail; turn R; follow .6 mi. to Palomas Peak

Gopher Snake

Location: 35.190674, -106.383255

©Bill Velasquez

Legunita Seca

Location: 35.227669, -106.399414

©Bill Velasquez

Trail Views

Location: 35.187759, -106.382545

©Bill Velasquez

Palomas Peak

Location: 35.23393, -106.405077

©Bill Velasquez

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