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!
From ABQ, take I-40 E to HWY 337, then S. Turn W on HWY 55. In the town of Manzano, take NM131 which becomes FR 253 and leads you past Red Canyon CG. Follow road to the end and park in hiker parking for free.
Both trails start from the same common trail and branch. You will be taking trail 89 and returning on trail 189. You will follow a steady ascent along the east side of the mountain and arrive at the Crest trail. The first segment is 2.2 miles and 1,680’ with several creek crossing which can be fast moving in times of run-off or recent rain. You then follow a 1.2 mile segment that gradually drops along contours near Gallo Peak just below 10,000’ and the high point of the hike. At this point you will have panoramic views showing burn areas from the 2007 Ojo fire that decimated much of the southern part of the mountain. Continue to drop in to a large grassy saddle where you can camp for the night or begin your gentle 3.4 mile descent back to the TH.
Water is present along Red Canyon and also at Spruce Spring. There are a couple of small waterfalls just beyond the 1 mile mark that will invite you to stop and enjoy them. The plan life is diverse along the way ranging from pine drops to penstemon, raspberry, and gooseberry. Alligator juniper give way to pine and aspen as you ascend to the crest. This trail is close enough to Albuquerque to escape the traffic inevitable in the Sandias and in the summer it is a cool destination with inviting creek pools.
- Distance: 12.5
Location: 34.622162, -106.411715
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Small waterfalls along this section.
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Vegitation begins to open up as you near the top of the climb.
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Panoramic Views below Gallo Peak.
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The cooler side of the hike runs along steep contours
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Views to the south and east open up.
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Trail grade eases as you drop back to the TH.
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Near the intersection.
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Looking North at the fire damage.
Location: 34.637586, -106.435633
Another view North
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Junction with Spruce Trail
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Trail to Spruce Spring
Location: 34.640482, -106.431384
Wilderness Boundary II
Location: 34.63861, -106.422694
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Easy grade as you drop back to the start.
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