La Luz Trail
LOCATION: Albuquerque, NM - Cibola National Forest
COUNTY: Bernalillo
PEAK ELEVATION: 10378' / 3,163m
ELEVATION CHANGE: 3775' / 1,151m
USGS QUAD: Sandia Crest (NM)
ONLINE MAP 1: TopoZone - Juan Tabo Recreation Area
A strenuous and scenic 16 mile round trip that ascends through several climate zones from the upper Sonoran desert to the Canadian zone at the crest. If you find yourself too tired to hike back down or behind schedule, catch a ride down the Sandia Peak Tram where it's only a 3 mile easy walk back to the trailhead parking. The trail is used year-round but in winter be prepared to use snowshoes and/or ice cleats. I've been told by a local ranger that in some years, spring conditions present deep ice on the upper mountain that may require crampons and ice axe.
Bring lots of water since there is no running water along this 8 mile trail. The first few miles are in the desert and have little to no shade. At about mile 3 you transition into a wooded zone where you get some relief from the sun but not the heat. At mile 5 there is a nice place to rest and rehydrate in the shade. Here you will start climbing 2+ miles of switchbacks that are quite rocky and are tortuous on your ankles. In the winter take the 'old' trail straight up the canyon at this point. At mile ~7.5 you will reach a trail junction with your choice of traversing to the Tram station and ski area or continuing to climb to Sandia Peak.
From Albuquerque head East on I-40 to Tramway road (NM 556) or take I-25 North to Tramway road. Take Tramway North (I-40) or East (I-25) to the northern boundary of the city and turn East on Forest Road 333. Follow the road and signs to the picnic area at its end. There is a nominal daily parking fee ($3 as of 12/31/07) so bring a few dollars in cash.