Challenge, 10k, and Bike Trails

We had grand aspirations to hike La Luz but we were thwarted by Memorial Day as there was no daycare options for the pup. Our pup can’t ride the tram and we were not interested (nor is he capable) of hiking 14 miles and 4000 feet of elevation. So we reset our goals to something a little less lofty and decided to head out to the Sandias and hike the 10k and Ellis Trail out to North Sandia Peak. This is a hike we had done twice before in the winter on snowshoes and has a nice payoff view from the crest. Unfortunately we ran into some bad luck and the Crest Highway was closed below the 10k trailhead due to a motorcycle accident. The ranger told us it would be at least an hour before the road would open.

We quickly chose another trailhead just below the road closure and parked the car at the 9 Mile Picnic area. From there we started up the Challenge Trail which shadows the Crest Highway for a mile until it reaches the 10K trail. We made a left onto the 10K trail with the goal of making it out to the tram terminal. The 10K was really pleasant as you work your way south across the mountain. With all the recent rain the Sandias were exceptionally green and lush. It’s been an unusual spring and normally the Sandia’s would be closed to hiking at this point in the year but with the abundant rain in the last few weeks the mountains should remain open. It’s a bit odd to cross the tiny Sandia Ski Park but the ski runs were really green and felt more like evenly spaced meadows than man made deforestation. We eventually made our way on to the system of bike trails below the tram station.

Challenge and 10K Trail Path

We were getting hungry and the weather was getting colder and clouds looked angry so we made a strategic decision to ditch the tram terminal and hastily eat our lunch. Max decided that the salad and stick bar was buffet style and proceeded to munch on anything within reach. We quickly made our way back towards the 10K but made a wrong turn. If you end up out by the ski slopes on the Sandia the trails are very poorly marked for hiking. I’m glad we had the GPS or it could have turned into a very long hike as we would have to retrace our steps. It only ended up being a 1/2 mile diversion but it could have been much worse (thank you Garmin!). Unfortunately the weather gods decided to frown upon our mistake and we ended up hiking back the rest of the way in a mix of hail rain that absolutely soaked Max making him look unbelievably pathetic (but cute like only a drenched puppy can). We made the very best of the road delays and weather and ended up with a nice 7 miler for our trouble.

Distance: 7.7 miles
Elevation: 1800 feet