Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM)

Supporting Sandia Ranger District Since 1997

Whether you are a hiker, mountain biker, cross-country skier, trail runner, or you just enjoy being in the Sandias, you know that our mountains are one of nature’s special gifts.

Have you ever wondered what you could do to help protect our mountains? Do you want to learn more about the animals and plants you find there? Do you like to meet people who share your concern for the Sandia and Manzanita Mountains?

Welcome! Please explore our website to learn more about the goals and many activities of the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM). We likely have volunteer opportunities that match your interests and abilities.

Click image to check out this great video about the uniqueness of the Sandias (“…young mountains formed of old rock”) created by our friends at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

*Technically, it’s Sandia Mountain (singular), but we often use the plural to recognize the existence of northern and southern peaks.

New to Albuquerque or just new to the Sandias? Explore the many recreational opportunities our mountains offer. Please carefully read the Safety section.

Please check out our La Luz Trail webpage if you are planning to hike this iconic but too often dangerous trail.

An easy way to get involved is to join Cibola Trail Rangers, an email group consisting of hikers, bikers, XC skiers, horsemen, etc., who frequent the trails in the Sandia Ranger District and are interested in exchanging information on trail conditions on both an immediate and continuing basis. The group includes FOSM members trained to correct reported problems.

Please report corrective actions as well as problems so the FOSM trail maintenance crew doesn’t hike to fix a problem that no longer exists.

Click above to learn about this auto tour guide to the Sandias.
Click above to enjoy an entertaining and educational video about the Sandias⏤mountains created by the Rio Grande rift only 10 to 20 million years ago but made mostly of granite 1.4 billion years old⏤produced by NMPBS in conjunction with Albuquerque’s tricentennial in 2006.
Click above to learn about this educational guide to the Sandias.

Sandia Peak Tramway makes the top of the mountain easily accessible and one-way hikes of La Luz Trail possible, but be sure to check their website before starting your journey.

Click image to access website. Chick here for live view from webcams.

June 5, 2024 – TTYL Crew: Jared (coach and mentor), Hans, Dwight, Robbie (2nd season), Lila, Vianey, Jamie, and Olivia (2nd season and now Crew Leader)

Once again this summer FOSM members are enjoying mentoring future environment and climate science leaders from the Talking Talons Youth Leadership program. FOSM members Joelle Hertel, Lou Romero, and Sam Beard have developed a program that keeps the 8 young people engaged in vigorous and educational activities in the forest from June 4 through June 20.

On June 4 Joelle had the TTYL crew working on improvements in the Juan Tabo Picnic Area including filling a seemingly bottomless latrine build by the CCC in the 1930s with sand from a nearby arroyo. On June 5 Lou Romero and Sam Beard had the youth helping FOSM’s Wednesday crew buck, split, and load donation wood previously felled at the top of the ski area. A few photos from this activity are shown below.

On Thursdays TTYL members will help the trail construction crew build a new connection between the 10K North and Osha Loop Trails.

Photos will be added here throughout the month as FOSM project leaders publish reports after activities.

Pauline Ho gave us an educational, entertaining, and colorful view of life on Midway Island based on the weeks that she and Rick spent there as volunteers counting albatross nests. You can access her photos and video clips here.

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on July 2.

June 13, 2024 – Sandia Ranger District Trails Foreman Jen Medina-Gray reports:

I come with news that we finally finished the Osha Loop extension today. That means old 10k is officially closed. Attached is a map for anyone as confused as I was about how this new extension of Osha Loop interacts with the surrounding trails. The extension we built is in orange.

Thank you Jerry and crew for clearing 10k over the last few weeks so we were able to focus on tread digging, and thank you as always to the Thursday FOSM crew for being the best diggers around.

The work began last November under the leadership of Jenny Blackmore upon completion of a reroute of the 10K North Trail. The work was suspended for the winter after the first snowfall.

Project reports with lots more photos can be found here.

Click on any image to enlarge.

May 30, 2024 – The FOSM trails construction crew, working under the leadership of Sandia Ranger District Trails Foreman Jen Medina-Gray and FOSM member Laura Leon, completed rerouting sections of the Lower Pine Trail out of drainages to improve sustainability of the trail. The work began in December under the leadership of Jenny Blackmore.

Work began with snow on the ground and finished in very warm temperatures. Crew members were happy to move to the cooler temperatures of the 10K North and Oshal Loop Trails.

Project reports with lots more photos can be found here.

Thanks to Steve Roholt for biking the trail and providing the adjacent Gaia track, which shows the trail to be just over two miles long with elevation ranging between 6,700 and 7,100 feet.

Click on any image to enlarge.

May 28, 2024 – FOSM cofounder Don Carnicom installed 5 new maps and signs in the Crest and Cienega areas. Three new Kiwanis Meadow Trails maps created by FOSM board member Jamey Browning, all alike except for the “you are here” note, were installed in the Crest area at the locations shown below. Also installed in the Crest area is a replacement for an interpretive education sign that has been in bad shape for years.

Shown below is the new Cienega Nature Trail sign created by FOSM members Ken Wilson and Jamey Browning. The four-foot-square sign is mounted on a long-empty kiosk panel at the beginning of the trail. (See adjacent map.)

Click to enlarge.

Don coordinated development and procurement of the signs.

May 28, 2024 – Adopt-a-Highway project leader Steve Roholt reports:

Today a group of 15 volunteers participated in FOSM’s semi-annual Adopt-a-Highway cleanup. I’m embarrassed about the blurry photo. You get the idea though. We had a great crew today. I was impressed by the level of participation!

The volunteers were Cliff Giles, Mike Madden, Rav Nicholson , Ken Nicholson, Laura Leon, Anne Hickman, Karen Grief, Pauline Ho, Rick Buss, Rich Miller, Scott Dietrich, Jamey Browning, Don Carnicom, Sim Cook and Steve Roholt.

We alternated between picking up and bagging trash, brush cutting and pruning along the guardrail, and clearing the shoulder of loose dirt that may be hazardous for cyclists coming downhill. We started at 0900, and most volunteers left by 1100.

It was a beautiful day out there and the traffic was not too bad. Our previous cleanup from last year was evident, and there was not a lot of trash to collect.

May 8 and 9, 2024 – Congratulations to FOSM members Michael Arndt, Byron Gardner, Mike Madden, Steve Roholt, Scott Dietrich, Dave Gabel, Sim Cook, and Eric Russell for successfully completing the rigorous Forest Service saw-certification process.

Michael Arndt earns B-level chainsaw felling certification; Photo credit: Steve Roholt
Click for details of Forest Service saw certification process.
Click for current list of FOSM members certified for chainsaw and crosscut saw operations.

Ever wonder who gets to be one of the people having fun handling chainsaws or crosscut saws in photos in the weekly project leader reports? You can buy or rent a chainsaw and remove a tree from your backyard without so much as a minute of training. Contrarily, gaining Forest Service authorization to do so is a very rigorous process.

After successfully completing classes in saw basics as well as courses in first aid, CPR, AED usage, and blood-borne pathogens, candidates must demonstrate proficiency in the field. There are three levels of certification: A-level sawyers are authorized to buck and limb trees already on the ground under the watchful eyes of a more experienced sawyer. B-level sawyers first demonstrate proficiency at bucking and limbing trees already on the ground before being tested and certified for felling trees—an especially challenging level of skill. Highly experienced Forest Service sawyers certified at the C level administer the A- and B-level certification tests.

Sawyers must be re-certified by testing in the field every three years to maintain their certification.

Click above to read document.
Click above to enlarge map.

FOSM member and Sandia Ranger District volunteer Jamey Browning is working with the Forest Service and several rescue organizations to develop signage and maps to improve hiker safety on La Luz Trail.

The trail, one of New Mexico’s most popular hiking destinations year-round, can be very dangerous as exemplified by two recent, fortunately successful, overnight rescues. The mid-January rescue of three stranded hikers involved multiple organizations and culminated in a dangerous helicopter extraction of one of the victims. The danger and difficulty of this rescue are described in a dramatic article published in the Albuquerque Journal on January 18. The mid-March rescue of five out-of-town hikers by Bernalillo County Fire and Rescue involved the use of infrared-camera technology to locate the hikers on the snow-packed trail.

Jamey is working closely with Jonathon Yales of Cibola Search & Rescue and the Sandia Ranger District to develop new signage and safety documentation that meets Forest Service requirements. The first tangible results of their efforts are warning signs and a map installed at the Lower La Luz Trailhead on January 10.

This effort is in response to a call for help from FOSM and Cibola Search & Rescue member Shannon Braune, who emphasized the frequency and severity of La Luz rescue missions during her presentation at our August 1, 2023 membership meeting.

Click to watch KOAT 7 report on March 13, 2024 rescue of five out-of-town hikers stranded in deep snow on La Luz Trail.
Click to read January 18, 2024 Albuquerque Journal article about a harrowing La Luz rescue.
Warning sign developed by Jamey and Jonathon
Map under development showing locations of “hot spots” – frequent rescue locations on La Luz Trail
Warning signs and map at Lower La Luz trailhead

Thanks, Anne Hickman for your years of faithful service as leader of the paint crew. Anne has stepped down due to other commitments. Please use the form on the referenced pages if you would be interested in assuming this leadership position.

Welcome, New FOSM Members!

Jeff and Jan Kokos – June 4, 2024

Neil Alessio – May 30, 2024

Tim Kirkpatrick – May 7, 2024

Marianne Randall – April 2, 2024

Judy Ruiz – March 29, 2024

Colleen Leseberg – March 29, 2024

Sharon Esquibel – March 29, 2024

Christine Neher – March 9, 2024

Judith Scarbrough – March 2, 2024

Emily Moore – January 29, 2024

Christopher Mcgrew – January 25, 2024

Allan Miltenberger – January 17, 2024

Laurie Lacey – January 8, 2024

Kerry Jones – January 5, 2024

Linda Shedd – January 2, 2024

Aaron Browning – December 18, 2023

Shawn Dietrich – December 9, 2023

*Life sponsor