Three Gun Spring (Tres Pistoles)

It seems fitting in New Mexico that a trail would be called Tres Pistolas or Three Gun Spring. After a long bout of frightfully wet and dreary May, by New Mexico standards, the sun finally decided to say hello. We decided to honor the sun by going out and enjoying this lovely cool spring day. Temps in the mid 60s in May is very unusual so we chose to layer up. What a mistake, I continually underestimate the power of the laser like sun here. I would soon regret my pants and long sleeve shirt.

Three Gun Spring trailhead is located right off I-40 in Carnuel, NM just east of Albuquerque (directions). The trail gently climbs due north from the parking lot through a mixture of scrub brush. Although it is in close proximity to the Interstate you barely notice it at all.

We were delighted to find a mix of wildflowers all along the trail due to the recent May rains. Be warned this hike is completely exposed in the lower half and although the temps were in the mid 60s it still felt quite warm.

Blooms along the trail at Three Gun Springs

After 1.5 miles you reach a series of switchbacks which proceed to rapidly gain elevation and views back to the south over Carnuel and the Manzano mountains. We stopped near the top to rest at a great overlook and to give the pup some much needed water. At roughly 2.5 miles you reach the trail intersection with the Embudito Canyon trail. The climate and environment is vastly different then the start of the hike as you are surrounded by small pine trees, junipers, and pinon trees.

Indian Paintbrush flowers at Three Gun Springs
Indian Paintbrush

There was supposed to be a small detour to the eponymous spring for which the trail is named but I must have missed it because we never saw it. If you proceed further north along the trail you can catch a few glimpses of the “Duke” City. The pup was looking a bit pooped so we decided to cut our hike short and we beat feet down the trail. A good day of exercise, hill climb, and sun worship.

Distance: 5.01 miles
Elevation: 1600 feet