Where’s a good place to go hiking?
As part of our Curious New Mexico project, a reader asked the best spots to hit the trail in New Mexico.
UNM journalism student Mary Byrne spoke with local hiking enthusiasts for the top tips.
New Mexico is filled with rolling mountains, incredible national parks and terrain to suit every hiker’s ability level. But training before hiking is key for people at every level, said Michael Grady, president of The New Mexico Mountain Club.
“True beginners should start in the foothills or bosque or their own neighborhoods. Walk. Walk often. Devise a route close to home that is six to ten miles long,” he said.
Absolute beginners should start in the morning and end around 4:00pm, Grady said.
“Change your route, add some elevation gain. Do it all again tomorrow and the next day. Repeat. Get comfortable with the weather, the terrain, the feeling of exercise and navigating your way,” he said.
Places to Start
If you are an inexperienced hiker, New Mexico offers short and less strenuous trails for beginners.
The Black Canyon trail in the Santa Fe National Forest is one place to start. At three miles long, it can accommodate families and dogs on leashes.
Monica Sauia, a 23-year-old student at UNM, recently hiked this trail and would advise beginners to start here.
“I hiked Black Canyon with very little experience and with plenty of water and a good attitude, this trail is a great one, especially if people want to bring their kids,” she said.
The Sandia Mountains
Once comfortable in your ability and fitness level, the Sandia Mountains are a great place to hike.
There are several easier trails in the Sandia Mountains, but Grady said it is vitally important not to embark on a hike with which you don’t feel comfortable.
“Do not exceed your abilities. You will be on the news and/or in the obituaries. It happens several times a year here,” he said.
The La Luz trail on the west face of the Sandia Mountains is another option, and offers panoramic views of Albuquerque from the top.
The trail is open sunrise to sunset and the La Luz trail website advisors hikers to visit in late spring, summer and into the fall.
harlotte Tossebro, a student at UNM recently hiked the La Luz trail and camped with a group of friends, where she enjoyed the view of Albuquerque.
“The view from the top is great. You could see the whole city, so I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Despite Tossebro’s love of this trail, she hiked in the winter and said to be wary if hiking in a colder climate.
“There was a lot of snow at the top, so it was a bit icy and slippery in the beginning, but after that it was a blast,” she said.
The La Luz trail is eight to nine miles long and a difficult descent, so it is a good idea for beginners to take the tram ride back down.
The Ojito Wilderness
Experienced hikers may opt for trails in more rugged and difficult terrain, such as the trails in the Ojito Wilderness.
The Ojito Wilderness is located west of Bernalillo, is open year round and covers 11, 200 acres, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management website.
The Ojito Wilderness contains a multitude of canyons and cliffs, making this a more dangerous environment for those who are not equipped to handle such conditions.
There are no facilities in or around the Ojito Wilderness area, so it is crucial that hikers bring enough water and supplies to last the duration of the hike.
Grady said he enjoys hiking in these wilderness areas, such as Ojito, that are off the beaten track.
“Generally, wide open spaces away from people, with interesting destinations attainable by hiking off-trail,” he said.
With 14 national parks and monuments within New Mexico, Grady is an advocate for safe, responsible hiking, getting outdoors and taking advantage of what New Mexico has to offer.
“There is so much accessible public land, opportunities are almost limitless,” he said.[/text_output][share title=”Share this post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]