New Mexico December 07, 2016
8 Trails In New Mexico With An Undeniably Amazing Final Destination
We’ve all heard the saying that life is as much about the journey as the destination. While that’s certainly true, when it comes to hiking, it’s fine to be greedy. Take a trail that provides not only a pleasant journey, but also a destination that’ll wow you. Here are 8 hikes in New Mexico to get you started.
1. Tsankawi, near White Rock
When visiting Bandelier National Monument, many overlook this trail because it’s not part of the main monument and it’s tricky to find. This 1.5-mile, round trip hike is short, but you do need to climb ladders. It’s definitely worth the extra effort because you walk in a “foot-carved” path that takes you past cavates, petroglyphs, and many kivas before ending at the ruins of the village of Tsankawi. This Ancestral Puebloan site once contained about 350 rooms!
To reach the trailhead, leave the main section of Bandelier, then keep an eye out for the gravel parking lot on the right, just beyond the 3rd stoplight.
For a map.
2. Fort Bayard Big Tree Trail, Fort Bayard
This moderately difficult hike steers you through the foothills of the Pinos Altos Mountains. The reward for hiking this 5-mile long trail is the opportunity to see the country’s second largest alligator Juniper Tree - it has an 18-foot circumference!
For more info.
3. Nambe Falls, Nambe
The hike up to Nambe Falls is steep at points, but still manageable for novices and kids. The trail to the overlook is maybe a quarter mile long. The second, much wetter trail, is a similar length and leads to the lower pool.
The Nambe Falls Recreation Area is typically open Thursday through Sunday until mid-November, when the area closes until mid-March. You need to pay a fee to enter this recreation area, so be sure to bring cash with you.
For more info.
4. Sandia Crest Trail, Albuquerque
The Sandia Crest Trail runs along the length of the Sandia Mountains. However, it’s easy to break it up into manageable sections. The portion of the trail near the tram is by far the most popular. That’s because the views are staggering and there is parking available.
5. Hidden Mountain and the Decalogue Stone Trail, near Los Lunas
The awesomeness of this hike’s destination is up for debate, but this mystique is part of its appeal. The Los Lunas Mystery Stone (also called the Decalogue Tablet or Commandment Rock) lies at the base of Hidden Mountain. The stone lists an abridged version of the Ten Commandments and some believe it pre-dates Columbus. Others think the stone is an elaborate hoax.
This 80-ton rock is on State Trust Land and you need to purchase a $35 permit to walk here. The pass gives you access to the moderate, 4-mile out and back trail leading to the stone. But it also grants you permission to hike on all other State Trust Land in New Mexico for a year.
For more info.
6. Lightfeather Hot Springs, near Gila
You’ll find the trailhead for this 1.5-mile, out and back hike at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitors Center. Follow Trail 157 to these primitive hot springs, which are next to the Middle Fork of the Gila River. Bring water shoes or a change of shoes because this hike involves river crossings. (Never put your head underwater in hot springs in this part of New Mexico, because illness-causing organisms may be present.)
7. Atalaya Mountain Hike, Santa Fe
This popular 6-mile, out and back day hike starts at St. John’s College. The trail is moderate to challenging because there is a significant elevation gain – bring plenty of water. After scaling the steep sections, you get to views like this. Tip: a walking stick is helpful on the way back down.
8. Natural Entrance Trail, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, near Carlsbad
Carlsbad Caverns is one of the most impressive destinations in New Mexico. Although you can descend into the caves via elevator, we recommend that you hike down the natural entrance trail – it’s only 750 feet long. This builds the suspense for the wonders you’re about to see and it also makes you feel as if the Earth is swallowing you up. For many this “hike” barely counts as a workout. If you still have energy after exploring the caves, take the trail on the way out as well, to really get your heart rate up!
Which New Mexico hike has left you breathless – and not just because of elevation gain? Here are some short
New Mexico hikes for the next time you’re low on time but craving nature.