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Nine Hot Albuquerque Rides

By Charlie Ervin - August 2nd, 2000

From the extinct volcanoes that loom on the West Mesa to the rugged terrain of the Manzano Mountains, Albuquerque offers plenty of places to spin your wheels.

Here are a few of my favorite spots. If you're not familiar with Albuquerque, you'll want a good street map to find the starting points for these rides.

Difficulty ratings

Easy: On/off-road rides, flat to rolling hills, no technical riding skills necessary.

Moderate: On/off-road rides, unimproved roads, two track, single track or any combination. Some technical riding skills necessary.

Hard: Off-road rides, severe unimproved roads, two track, single track or any combination. Advanced skills necessary.

Hardcore: Severe climbing, bike portage probable, severe descents.

I = Little climbing
II = Rolling hills
III = Some steep sections
IV = Steep sections
V = High mountain altitudes

Corrales Bosque
17 miles roundtrip, Easy I

This ride starts at the northwest corner of the Corrales Bridge in the dirt parking lot. Enter the ditch road at the Conservancy District gate and go north to the bridge crossing the clear ditch.

After crossing the bridge, go north on the ditch bank for approximately 200 yards. Look to the east for the trailhead. It's fairly obvious.

The trail network criss-crosses the bosque, terminating at North Beach. All of these trails will keep you between the Rio Grande and the clear ditch.

To return, retrace your steps. If you want to make a loop, you may return on the clear ditch road, but make sure to stay on the east side of the ditch.

Rio Grande Trail at Candelaria Boulevard
15 miles roundtrip, Easy I

The beginning of this ride is at the west end of Candelaria Boulevard at the entrance to the Nature Center in Albuquerque. To get there, take the Candelaria exit off Interstate 25 and go west. At the Nature Center, follow the bike route sign to the paved trail and then head north, crossing the clear ditch at the Nature Center bridge. Continue north on the clear ditch road, crossing the ditch to the east side at the next foot bridge.

At this point, you will continue north on single track to the Paseo del Norte bridge. At the bridge, you will be able to cross the ditch and return on the ditch road, or you may return on the single track.

Please remember that no bikes are allowed on the trails at the Nature Center. Also, stay off private property.

South Valley Canal Road
15 miles roundtrip, Easy I

One of many possible starting points for this ride is Kit Carson Park near Tingley Beach. Follow the paved bike trail south until it turns into a dirt road, staying on the east side of the river.

Follow the dirt road south. You will cross the Tijeras drainage just south of Rio Bravo Boulevard, but the road will continue on the south side.

You may follow the road until it intersects Interstate 25 at the Isleta Pueblo boundary.

While riding, you are likely to see fowl, birds of prey and beavers. The farther south you go, the more beautiful the ride becomes, offering spectacular views of the Sandia and Manzano mountains.

Various distances, Easy II to Moderate II

Enter Volcano Park and park at the model airplane field. The Volcano Park entrance is past the entrance to Petroglyph Park at the north end of Atrisco Drive.

A series of two-track roads begins at the parking lot. The roads take you around the volcanoes that loom west of Albuquerque. Loops and out-and-backs are possible here.

Six-mile loop, Easy II

Forest Service Road 445 off State Highway 44 provides a loop on a graded dirt road. Numerous single-track trails spur from the road. Some of the single tracks provide challenging moderate to hard riding, making the length variable.

Remember, bikes are not allowed in designated wilderness areas. Please respect private property.

Foothills Trail
Up to 14 miles, Moderate II

Follow Montgomery Boulevard east of Tramway to Glenwood Hills Road. Turn left (north) and follow until you see the Embudito water tank and trailhead access road on the right (east).

The mountain bike trail network starts at the water tank and traverses the foothills north through Elena Gallegos to either Sandia Heights subdivision or the Tramway water tank. Explore the area and you'll find some fun loop rides, too. Please observe wilderness boundaries and trail restrictions in Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Cedro Peak
Various distances, All difficulties

The area's premium mountain biking area. Head east on Interstate 40 to the Tijeras exit. Follow Old South 14 (now 337) past the ranger station.

Cedro's closest access is at Chamisoso Road on the east side of the road about a mile past the ranger station. Another favorite starting point is at the Cedro Camground farther south. Look for the brown Forest Service signs.

Note: Because of the large area and varied terrain of Cedro, it's easy to get lost. Take appropriate maps and survival gear.

Tajique Torreon
21-mile loop, Easy II

Follow Interstate 40 east from Albuquerque to the Tijeras exit. Follow N.M. 337 (old highway 14) to the village of Tajique. It's about a one-hour drive from Albuquerque.

Park across the street from Ray's Market (ask for permission at Ray's). Follow Forest Road 55 toward 4th of July Campground (10 miles). At the campground junction, follow Forest Road 55 to the left. You will climb for about 2 miles and then begin your descent into the town of Torreon (7 miles). Once in Torreon, turn left and return to Tajique on the pavement (2 miles).

Sandia Peak Ski Area
Various distances, Easy IV to Hard V

The folks at Sandia Peak Ski Area have constructed several exciting trails within the ski area boundaries. You can expect great high mountain scenery and cooler summer temperatures. Try hardcore mountain singletrack climbs or catch the chairlift for a fee and cruise downhill.


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