I know better than to go to popular recreation areas near big cities on weekends. But that doesn’t keep me from trying. And sort of failing.
Sandia Peak rises above Albuquerque. Hearty folks, who like a challenge, hike to the 10,000+ foot top on various trails. Heartier and crazier folks run up the trails because walking isn’t extreme enough for them. For those wanting something easier to handle, there’s an aerial tram. Hiking downhill is more my style. But the tram is closed because of the pandemic.
No problem, there’s a highway up the east side serving a ski resort and broadcast towers. It’s just the thing for heartier, crazier bicyclists and us tourists. I could drive up, walk down La Luz Trail a bit then hike back up.
Well, I drove up, at least. It was wonderful to be up in the cooler air, among the oaks and pines, with views of the desert below.
The trailhead parking lots and the lot at the top had signs declaring all vehicles must display a recreation permit. I couldn’t find information about those permits online. Additionally, there was a three dollar parking fee, and all I had was a twenty. Oh well. Besides, there was a crowd.
So I headed back down the mountain until I came to the junction with State Road 165. From previous map study, I knew it led to Placitas and I-25. A big sign warned it was an unimproved road with nowhere to turn around. But, what the heck, it was good enough to have a state rather than Forest Service designation. I dove in.
More than eight miles of rocks, ruts and potholes. But the Rolling Steel Tent handled it just fine. Gravity was a big help. I was able to roll through some of the jankier parts rather than trying to scramble up through them. Plus there was no snow and scarcely any mud.
About half way along I saw a sign for Sandia Cave. Well dang. If I couldn’t have a tunnel yesterday I’d take a cave today.
Again, there was a crowd, but not too bad. The trail was nice, part of it shaded, part along a cliff, and part with fencing and handrails. There’s a spiral staircase up to the cave which, sadly, means it’s easy for jerks to get there and leave graffiti. There’s no hint the place was discovered filled with Ice Age artifacts. But I enjoyed the walk. I’m really getting into this hiking thing.
ADDENDUM: I finally found the information about recreation passes for Sandia Mountain. It looks like my seniors’ Interagency Pass would’ve worked.