Sandia Picnic LbNA # 11316
|Placed Date||Sep 21 2004|
The Sandias are the beautiful rugged mountains just to the east of Albuquerque. "Sandia" is the Spanish word for "watermelon", and is perhaps reflective of their reddish sunset coloration, or the squash growing nearby that reminded early Spanish explorers of watermelons from their homeland. In any case, there is now a whole watermelon available for a high elevation picnic, in addition to the slice already waiting at "Sandia Crest"! This particular watermelon was carved by Laurette for a picnic party at our home in RI a while back, and we simply couldn't think of a lovelier, more appropriate place to plant it than out here in these gorgeous "watermelon mountains"!
To reach the trailhead for this 3.8 mile loop hike (or 1/4 mile nature loop if you take the Tram or ski lift), drive east from Albuquerque on I-40 to exit 176 and take route 14 six miles north, then route 536, the Sandia Crest Scenic Highway, about 14 miles to its end at the Sandia Crest Visitor Center. Presently there is a $3 parking fee good for all day at any of the many trail heads and picnic areas throughout Cibola National Forest. Please remember also that you will be hiking at over 10,000 feet here, so the air is thinner, cooler, and windier than down in town.
From just south of the gift shop complex, take the short Nature loop about halfway around to pick up the Crest Trail #130 taking off 1.75 miles to the top of the Tram. (You'll probably want to stop for Silver Eagle's "Sandia Crest" box while you're out here, too!) Continue along the shady path, past Kiwanis Meadows to another nature trail loop near the Tram terminal.
Find the Snowberry sign located 15 steps north along the nature trail from the end of an iron railing. Climb over some rocks at 220 degrees another 15 steps. Look to your right behind two boulders to spot a third boulder. Hop over and have a seat on the adjacent flat topped boulder and enjoy the view out over Albuquerque. Then look under the east side of that third boulder beneath a piece of wood and a small flat stone. Please replace everything carefully just as you found it.
You can return the way you came, but for a more interesting loop, continue to the Tram station, then take the "flat" portion of the "La Luz" trail back towards the Sandia Crest Visitor Center, remembering to turn off to the right at the well-marked junction for the 6/10 mile climb back up to the top. Hope you have a great day for a picnic!
Alive and well as of Jun 13, 2005