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.

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Legend has it that Spanish explorers named this range Sandia (meaning watermelon) for its rosy glow at sunset. You be the judge on this five-miler below North Sandia Peak. Less than a mile in, turn right for a .4-mile side trip to a pourover that transforms into a burbling waterfall after a rain.

Next, ascend 1.4 miles (and nearly 1,200 feet of elevation) to a high point dubbed “The Knob.” From here, walk .4 mile northwest along the summit ridge for distant views north of the Sangre de Cristos. Linger here ‘til dusk (or camp below The Knob) to watch the sinking sun bathe North Sandia’s west-facing crags in pink and red hues.

-Mapped by Bill Velasquez


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.1



Location: 35.223058, -106.483406

From sign near kiosk, follow two-track dirt road N


Location: 35.228409, -106.482399

Dirt road ends; Piedra Lisa Trail begins


Location: 35.229846, -106.48093

Quick descent into parched streambed shaded by piñon and juniper


Location: 35.230683, -106.479562

Wilderness boundary. Ahead, turn R for .4-mi. side trip up a cramped canyon-a must-do if there’s been any rain


Location: 35.229988, -106.476501

Hiking stops @ small pourover-usually dry, but a cool spot when creek runs and waterfall burbles. Backtrack to WPT 4, then head NW toward tilted rock slabs


Location: 35.231193, -106.47946

Geocache: Turn left and hike SE around rock bench. Under the large pile of rocks is a green ammo box of geocache goodies.


Location: 35.238232, -106.477798

On R, rock climbers work the cruxes on The Shield and other crags of North Sandia Peak


Location: 35.244603, -106.475329

Reach the ridge. Continue R (E) on Rincon Spur


Location: 35.243464, -106.474128

The Knob: Views of Mt. Taylor to W and the Sangre de Cristos to N. Backtrack to WPT 8 and head W past unsigned fork along ridgeline for final treasure hunt


Location: 35.247196, -106.478409

This easier-to-find cache is tucked between rocks just S of large fire pit. Take in more views, then return to trailhead

Small Waterfall

Location: 35.230004, -106.476338

Sandia Sunset

Location: 35.241028, -106.475093