cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


656 La Luz Trail - Sandia Mountain 2012-06-10

the lower La Luz trail on Sandia Mtn

After recuperating a day from the drive from Nashville to Albuquerque, we headed to the Sandia Mountains to hike the famous La Luz Trail. The Sandia Mountains line the north-east side of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The vertical rise is over 3,600 feet in a distance of seven miles and the lower section of the trail is hot and exposed. There is however a snack bar and great views at the top!

Arriving at the trailhead at 0630, there were a few other cars already in the parking area. Still others arrived a few minutes later. As we readied ourselves to start the hike, we noticed a large group was gathering. Though we never talked to any of the hikers, we assumed it was a "Meet-Up" group. Amy and I were determined to leave the trailhead before the large group. Throwing things into our packs we ran, leaving the trailhead seconds before the group. We definitely did not want to hike behind a group of sixteen.

Leaving the trailhead, I checked the GPS. I thought that I had turned it on earlier, but now it was off. Puzzled, I tried to start it again. Normally, I would have stopped and tinkered with the unit, but remember the group of sixteen breathing down our necks? While walking I tried to discover and fix the problem. I soon decided that batteries were the most likely culprit, so I changed them with a fresh set. It still did not work. Finally, I took the batteries from the other GPS and placed them in the faulty unit. Once again, it did not work. Luckily, REI, the store where we purchased the GPS, was close by. We would visit the store later that afternoon after the hike.

The cool morning air let us set a good pace, but we were still regularly passed by trail runners. A big race, which follows the trail, was coming soon. The runners were training as they buzzed by us. In the meantime, we were just trying to make it up the seven mile trail and our first visit to 10,000 feet this year.

At the summit, we visited the snack bar. It was not as nice as the one on top of Pikes Peak, but it was still nice. We bought a couple of cookies and most importantly water, even though we typically don't like to support bottled water. On the hike up the mountain we did not see any water sources and we needed extra water for the hot hike down the mountain. The only polite way for us to get water was to purchase it. I will say it was cold, tasty, and had a Sandia Crest Label. I think we saved one.

We hardly met anyone on the trail up the mountain, but we met many folks on the way down. A couple of the stories will be told later, but in general, it was hot, really hot (to us, unacclimated easterners, at least). To help control our body temperatures we slowed our pace and we were able to experience many sights we missed on the hike up, like it or not.

We returned to the car shortly after noon. It was a welcome sight.

The La Luz Trail is a great hike. The lower section of the trail is a very moderate grade and the upper portion is only a bit steeper. The upper section crosses many scree, talus, and boulderfields. There is a lot of hiking on loose rocks. We sort of like moving over the stones but others find it tiresome.

If you are ever visiting Albuquerque - hike the La Luz. It is a classic. Start early and remember that it climbs over 3,000 feet and is a fourteen mile, round trip. For easterners, you might feel the effects of the altitude (10,678) and you will definitely feel the effects of the heat if you hike during the summer.

Happy La Luz Trails


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: