Improving La Luz Trail Safety

FOSM and Cibola Search & Rescue member Shannon Braune emphasized the frequency and severity of La Luz rescue missions during a presentation at our August 1, 2023 membership meeting.

In response, FOSM member and Sandia Ranger District volunteer Jamey Browning began working with the Forest Service and 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.

Click to read January 18, 2024 Albuquerque Journal article about a harrowing La Luz rescue.
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.
Map under development showing locations of “hot spots” – frequent rescue locations on La Luz Trail

Jamey, working closely with Jonathon Yales of Cibola Search & Rescue and the Sandia Ranger District, is developing new signage and safety documentation that meets Forest Service requirements.