Hike of the Week: North Crest Trail

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Sierra Club outings and in-person events have been cancelled through February 28th, 2021. While we’re all disappointed, we understand that everyone’s health and safety are most important. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and go for a hike! Our do-it-yourself outings are designed with you in mind and offer a range of difficulties and outdoor experiences. We hope you’ll climb the mountains and receive their good tidings during this challenging time.

North Crest Trail (Trail 130N)

Location: Albuquerque-east mountains
Difficulty: Easy, ~3.7 miles round trip, out and back
Hiking time: 2.5-3 hours
Cost: $3 per vehicle and pay at the crest or display the appropriate pass
Dogs: permitted on leash
Map: USDA Forest Serice

About this hike: This week’s hike offers exhilarating views and is one that I often take out-of-town visitors for the high altitude experience. Autumn is a great time to hike on Sandia Crest. The aspens and the grasses are changing colors and there’s a slight chill in the air that will awaken your senses. Because this is an out-and-back hike you can make this hike as easy or as challenging as you like. Trail 130 extends 26 miles from Tijeras to Placitas and this outing will take you down one short section of it. For this Outing of the Week, you’ll start at the Sandia Crest. The trail begins at the North end of the parking lot and you’ll proceed North. Remain on Trail 130 for about 1.9 miles while you gradually descend about 500 feet in elevation and parallel the Sandia Crest. After a relaxing water and snack break, you’ll return the same way. If you’d like a little shorter hike, at the 1.25 mile point look for a faint trail that diverts to the west from the main trail and after a few hundred yards you’ll end up atop a cliff for views of the western horizon.

Pro Tip: Stay at least one body-length from all cliff edges to give yourself a margin of safety. In winter time when there’s snow on the ground, stay at least two body-lengths from cliff edges in case there are snow cornices that overhang and conceal the cliff edge.

Getting there: Take I-40 East to exit 175 and go North on NM-14 towards Cedar Crest. From the exit proceed North on NM-14 for approximately 6 miles and turn left (East) onto NM-536. Look for the Sandia Ski Area sign and the Shell station as prompts for the turnoff onto NM-536. Travel up NM-536 for approximately 12 miles until you reach the Sandia Crest parking lot. GPS coordinates: N35.213 W106.4496.

Don’t forget to Leave-No-Trace!

Hike of the Week: North Crest Trail