Here’s the deal: You haven’t got the time nor the gear to tackle Albuquerque’s mountain terrain or wilderness trails. Or maybe you’re just not into that kind of exertion. Still, you’d like to be out in nature. This must be your lucky day. Read on to explore Albuquerque’s urban trails where you can enjoy nature without really trying.
Just what is an urban trail?
Generally, an urban trail is a designated path or route that winds through a city’s urban landscape. If properly designed, it gives the appearance of being out in nature even if the hum of nearby traffic can’t be avoided.
Urban trails can take many different forms, depending on the city’s layout and geography. They are designated for non-motorized use and provide a way for hikers, joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, and cyclists to explore and experience the city’s natural beauty and cultural attractions. These trails can be found in many cities around the world and offer residents and visitors a safe and pleasant way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and discover parts of the city with which they’re unfamiliar.
Albuquerque’s Urban Trails
Albuquerque’s premier multi-use urban trail is the Paseo del Bosque Trail. It runs 16 miles from the north to the south edges of the metro area through the Rio Grande’s cottonwood bosque. Along the way, you can stop and enjoy the Rio Grande Valley State Park, the Rio Grande Nature Center, and other interesting venues.
Albuquerque is also home to several riparian areas, including the Rio Grande Bosque and the Tingley Beach area. These areas offer a variety of urban hiking trails that wind through wetlands and river habitats. Sharpen your eyes. This is the place where you’re most likely to see interesting wildlife and birds.
Decades ago, Albuquerque citizens decided to preserve open spaces throughout the area, from agricultural to riparian. These spaces sprinkled around the city provide great urban hiking locations. You can start at the Open Space Visitor Center to learn more about the trails and why these areas were preserved.
Boulevards in nature
Just like boulevards and streets of a city, urban trails often connect neighborhoods, business districts, and other important parts of the city, making it easier for people to get around on foot or by bike. They may meander through parks, gardens, and green spaces, or along rivers, canals, and other bodies of water.
A different kind of networking
Many urban trails are part of a larger network, allowing hikers, walkers, and bikers to explore multiple parts of the city in a single outing. They can also offer educational and cultural opportunities, with signage, art installations, and other interpretive features highlighting the city’s history, culture, and natural environment.
Trails of different types and lengths
Some urban trails are paved, while others may be gravel or dirt paths. Some are short, others cover longer distances connecting multiple neighborhoods or cities. They are an important part of urban planning and design, promoting healthy, sustainable, and livable communities, enhancing the quality of life, and attracting visitors.
Urban hiking is for real
Hiking Albuquerque’s urban trails is a way many people can explore and experience the city. It’s the real deal. Instead of traditional trekking into mountains and wilderness areas, urban hiking takes you on a journey through neighborhoods and parks, allowing you to discover the hidden gems and lesser-known parts you may not have come across otherwise.
Enthusiasts seek out designated trails or routes to picturesque viewpoints, historic landmarks, and even what some call the city’s best-kept secrets — usually accessible only by shank’s mare — that’s walking if you’re unfamiliar with the 18th-century term.
Urban hiking is a great way to stay active in mind and body and get some exercise while checking out Albuquerque’s sights and sounds. Adapt your hiking to suit your fitness level. Hike alone or with a group of like-minded people . . . maybe even make new friends along the way.
Urban hiking fashion
When it comes to what to wear on an urban hike, it’s important to strike a balance between comfort, functionality, and style. Like Freddie Prinze used to say, you always want to be “Lookin’ good!” Here are some tips to help you choose the right clothing and gear:
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. Since you’ll be walking on concrete and other hard surfaces, it’s essential to wear comfortable and supportive shoes that can handle the terrain. Opt for sneakers, hiking boots, or other sturdy footwear that provide good traction and support your feet.
- Choose breathable clothing made from moisture-wicking fabrics. That will keep you cool and dry, especially during hot and humid weather. Avoid cotton as it can retain moisture and become uncomfortable.
- Remember to layer. Depending on the weather and time of day, you may need to layer your clothing to stay comfortable. Bring a lightweight jacket or hoodie you can easily tie around your waist or stuff into your backpack if you get too warm.
- Protect your skin with sunscreen at an SPF of at least 30 because you’ll burn more quickly in the high desert. Wear a hat and sunglasses — shades will help you look really cool.
- Bring a small backpack or daypack to carry essentials like water, snacks, a map or guidebook, and any other personal items you may need.
- Consider bringing a camera, binoculars, or a small first aid kit in case of any minor injuries or accidents.
You may not be able to tackle La Luz Trail up 3,000 feet of the west side of the Sandia Mountains to the crest. You may not even have an interest in doing that. But, since we’re all encouraged to get fresh air and exercise, urban trails — like those in Albuquerque — are an ideal way to walk, experience, and explore the city.