Just east of the Northeast Heights area of Albuquerque the Sandia Foothills Open Space Park is home to dozens of hiking trails from short to long, and easy to challenging. With so many hiking trails, it’s hard to choose just a few, but here’s a sampling.
On any trail, when the weather is hot, be sure to start out early in the day or later in the evening and take plenty of water. Because many trails lack shade, sunscreen is a good idea. Dogs are welcome on a leash on any of the trails described here. The labels, easy, moderate, and hard are subjective and apply to experienced hikers, so keep in mind that what’s easy for some might be moderately challenging for others.
Embudo Trail and 365A Loop
At one and a half miles long, this easy loop should take you about 42 minutes to complete it. Hikers, runners, and walkers alike enjoy this trail. With an elevation gain of only 259 feet, the many curves and beautiful views make this short trail interesting. There is no shade, so consider an evening hike, when you might see the sunset over the mountains. It’s kid- and dog-friendly. To get there, go north on Tramway and take a right on Indian School Road NE.
365 and 401 Trail Loop
This 1.3-mile loop with a modest elevation gain of 226 feet is an easy trail that should only take about 36 minutes to complete. Although it’s perfect for hiking, walking, or jogging, you might not see many others on this trail. Since it’s free of scrambles, dogs and kids will probably enjoy this outing. While there’s not much for views or wildlife, it’s a nice trail to end or start your day. To get there, take exit 167 from I-40, go north on Tramway and turn right at Menaul Boulevard NE. The parking lot for the trail is on the right.
Piedra Lisa Canyon Trail
This two-mile out-and-back trail is moderately challenging, with an elevation gain of 948 feet. You can expect to see others on the trail as it’s popular with hikers, birdwatchers, and horseback riders. It’s best to tackle this trail between March and October due to ice and snow in the winter months. Be aware that you’ll need to scramble over rocks and boulders in places, but the views, a trek into the forest, and some shady spots make it all worthwhile. Although dogs are welcome on a leash, you might want to leave your dog at home on your first outing — just to be sure your canine can handle the scrambles. Small dogs or children might find it too challenging. To get there, take exit 167 from I-40, go north on Tramway and turn right at Menaul Boulevard NE. The parking lot for the trail is on the right.
Embudito Canyon Trail
Longer than most trails on this list, at 7.9 miles, this out-and-back Embudito Canyon Trail is moderately challenging. It’s quite a climb with an elevation gain of 2,395 feet, but it’s a popular trail. If you go all the way out-and-back, expect the hike to take close to five hours, so you’ll want to pack a snack as well as water. Where it skirts the edge of the Cibola National Forest, expect to see wildlife any time of year and blooming cacti in the spring. To get to this trail take exit 167 from I-40, go north on Tramway and turn right at Montgomery. The parking lot for the trail is on the right.
Embudo Canyon Trail to Three Gun Spring Trail
With an elevation gain of 1,706 feet, this 6.3-mile trail has switchbacks and a few boulders that give it the “hard” rating. Leashed dogs are welcome but traversing the canyon passage might be a challenge for an inexperienced pooch — or person. But if you’re up for a cardio challenge and are hoping for some great views, this hike fits the bill. After the first mile, you’ll come to a narrow canyon with steep steps, then the trail climbs but is plenty wide before you get to the switchbacks; then you turn around and head back. It will likely take about three and a half hours to complete. To get to this trail take Tramway to Indian School Road NE and turn right; then go 2.9 miles to get to the parking lot.
Foothills Summit Loop
This five-mile loop with an elevation of 1,729 feet will take about three and a half hours to complete. The climb is free of boulders, but even without scrambles, the steep climb and numerous switchbacks make it a challenging hike. It’s sparsely populated, and the beautiful views, wildlife, and wildflowers make it worth the effort. Keep an eye out for trails going off the main trail. Most hikers recommend starting off in a counterclockwise direction to avoid a very steep uphill start. To get to this trail take Tramway to Indian School Road NE and turn right; then go 2.9 miles to get to the parking lot.