Recreation

Introduction

Photo credit: Mike Coltrin

Recreational opportunities abound in the Sandia Ranger District. To learn more, please refer to the “Visitor Recreation Guide and Map to the Sandia and Manzanita Mountains,” by clicking here.

Click on the links below to learn more about opportunities in the Sandia Mountains for:

Safety

Safety is the paramount issue in enjoying the mountains. Local search and rescue teams are called to the Sandias several times a year, and the outcome is tragic far too often. Mike Coltrin, FOSM member and originator of this website, included a comprehensive review of safety issues in his opus Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide including:

  • Sun
  • Snow
  • Weather Patterns
  • Lightning
  • Flash Floods
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Bears
  • Poison Ivy
  • Plague
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Hypothermia
  • Altitude
  • Getting Lost

The complete safety section from this superb guide book is available in pdf form here. The included standalone map is available here.

Cell phone connectivity can be spotty to nonexistent in the Sandias depending on location and carrier. This can become a critical problem if hiking alone. Garmin’s inReach communications devices, while pricey, provide excellent satellite communications and GPS tracking.

Maps

Having the appropriate map is critical for safely enjoying the many trails in the Sandias and Manzanitas. Smartphone applications such as Gaia GPS, AllTrails, Strava, Waymarked Trails, and TrailForks are excellent means of acquiring and using maps including GPS guidance. Most provide some functionality with free versions, but an annual subscription usually is required for full functionality (such as downloading maps). (Note: You do not need cellular connection for the GPS chip in your smartphone to work, which makes these apps so useful; however you do need to have pre-downloaded a map for your current location to show on it.)

Some of these applications allow you to upload your own tracks and create routes composed of multiple trails. FOSM member Jamey Browning is in the process of adding popular routes in the Sandias to Waymarked Trails. The app sorts routes into several categories including hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and winter sports.

Other resources include:

Mike Coltrin vacated his website for hiking in the Sandias (sandiahiking.com), but he granted FOSM permission to link from this website to an archive copy in the interest of passing along legacy data related to the Sandia trails (including GPS waypoints and GPS tracks of many of the Sandia Trails). See also: Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide – UNM Press.

Trails

The table below lists many of the official (maintained) trails in the Sandia Mountains. Many are used year round for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Lengths shown are one-way.

Difficulty RatingTrail NumberTrail NameLength (miles)Elevation Change (ft)
Easy196Bill Spring0.7231
 365Foothills13800
 265Oso Corredor2.7701
 72Sandia Cave0.584
 281Sulphur Canyon0.4109
Moderate148Cienega2.21,659
 202Ellis2.7630
 195Faulty9808
 20010K4.9572
 201Osha Loop2.7246
 259Penasco Blanca1.6520
 51Strip Mine2.6933
 264Tecolote1.2180
 194Three Gun42,133
 82Tramway2.6929
 147Tree Spring21,039
 195AUpper Faulty1.348
Difficult225Bart’s2.11,879
 150Canoncito3.11,935
233Challenge9.22,550
 84Crest Spur0.6507
 192Embudito5.63,039
 193Embudo3.21,749
 215Hawk Watch1.2930
 137La Luz7.73,775
 130NNorth Crest10.64,118
 247Osha Spring4.52,708
 135Piedra Lisa5.82,099
 140Pino4.72,798
 130SSouth Crest164,081
214CCC1.81,702
 230Domingo Baca2.4739

NOTES: For more details on trails see “Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide” by Mike Coltrin and the Sandia Ranger District Map, both available at the Sandia Ranger District Station in Tijeras.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.   — John Muir