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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
- Distance: 22.1
Location: 35.163231, -106.469879
Start at the Elena Gallegos trailhead. There’s a water fountain here.
Location: 35.168191, -106.468289
Follow trail 230.
Location: 35.171112, -106.466815
Cross over the boundary to FS land. This is the entrance gate to Domingo Baca Trail.
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.
Location: 35.176659, -106.46742
Look back and catch some nice views of the city from here.
Location: 35.178824, -106.464318
Posts along the way help you find the route.
Location: 35.180088, -106.461925
Old rock house ruins.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 35.193148, -106.443531
If you detoured around the slippery rocks, find the trail again here.
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.
Location: 35.196213, -106.442069
Follow a faint trail up towards La Luz.
Location: 35.198848, -106.442632
This waypoint will help you locate the right route.
Location: 35.199428, -106.442368
You’ll have some great views as you make your way up.
Location: 35.200371, -106.441945
The pitch is steep. Not suitable for people who have problems with heights.
Location: 35.201572, -106.441
You break out in to a relatively flat meadow here just before finding La Luz.
Location: 35.202006, -106.440161
Start looking for the La Luz Trail
Location: 35.20251, -106.440181
Find La Luz Trail and turn right (southeast) to follow it to the restaurant.
Location: 35.196983, -106.434899
This is the end of the La Luz portion of the trail. Head towards the restaurant for that beer!
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.
Location: 35.194841, -106.43306
Find the marker for the southbound portion of your trip on the Crest Trail #130.
Location: 35.192868, -106.4314
Re-enter the wilderness.
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.
Location: 35.167708, -106.436383
This is a nice spot for a tent. Unfortunately, there isn’t any water nearby.
Location: 35.165271, -106.456257
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.
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!
Location: 35.200138, -106.442093
You’ll see the tram wires and you might even see the tram cars pass by.
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!
Location: 35.163448, -106.469566
The Sandia Mountain range, which hugs the eastern edge of Albuqueruqe, will be your challenge for this hike.
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.
Location: 35.183025, -106.413666
Enjoy views of the east side