As part of the Las Placitas Association’s goal to protect open space and provide and promote recreational activities and opportunities we host at least 3-4 hikes each year in the greater Albuquerque area.
One of these trails, the Stripmine Trail is just off NM 165 right here in Placitas and offers three options with differing lengths and degrees of difficulty. The Strip Mine Trail is a rough and exposed trail in the far north foothills of the Sandias. It follows an old jeep road that takes you past an abandoned strip mine. The trail is rather easy and flat, although sun and lack of trees can make it a very hot hike. I recommend that you hike this trail in a cool time of year or early in the morning. The trail goes up and down through small gullies, and passes a small exposed strip mine to the north. The exposed earth below the top soil is red along here, and very striking. The route also passes through low scrub brush and cactus, about the only vegetation in the area. All three trails, which are moderately trafficked, feature wild flowers and offer a good chance to see some wildlife as well.
- The basic loop trail is 2.9 miles long and has an elevation gain of 335 feet.
- The middle loop is 3.6 miles long and as an elevation gain of 505 feet.
- The high side loop is 5 miles long and has an elevation gain of 863 feet.
All 3 trails which are moderately trafficked feature wild flowers and offer a good chance to see some wildlife as well.
Another great trail is the Tent Rocks Trail (Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument) that is located near the Cochiti Pueblo and features beautiful wild flowers and a nice slot canyon that you will be hiking through. The Slot has beautiful examples of rock strata, hoodos, the effects of wind and water. It’s a nice climb-about 750 ft climb in about 3 miles. Going through tunnels and up ledges. There are railroad ties to make steps to get to the top where you can see for miles. The loop for handicapped small children is nice, with soaring raptures and cliffs. There’s almost something for everybody, except rock climbers and rock scramblers. Stay on the trail as it is a sacred site.
The last hiking trail to be discussed this article is the San Ysidro Trails which are a 6.1 lightly trafficked loop trail located just off US 550 beyond the town of San Ysidro. This trail offers a number of activity options. This rare New Mexico slot canyon lies just 45 minutes northwest of Albuquerque on BLM land (also known as Red Mesa to local mountain bikers). There are two canyons in this public area, with the easternmost the more spectacular of the two. It doesn’t span more than 50 feet across, but boasts a 30-40 foot deep sandstone slot that lasts for almost 1/2 mile. Most of the year, there are pools deep enough to wade, and some, to swim. Located among junipers and sandstone, it is a hidden wonder in a seemingly flat high desert landscape. This canyon can be joined with the western canyon for an enjoyable day of canyon scrambling.