Bypassing the rock climbing of the more direct Embudo Trail
to the north, Embudo Horse Trail is an alternate, higher bypass leading into the canyon. The trail is an approachable, moderate ascent from the parking lot, but it is best experienced downhill, where hikers can enjoy outstanding views of Albuquerque and the high desert beyond.
The beginning of the trail on its eastern end has two starting points. As depicted on the GPS track here, the Horse Trail begins across a small ravine from Embudo Trail
as a clearly visible singletrack. There is also a short segment a couple hundred feet down connecting further west on Embudo Trail
; a wooden marker shows this intersection.
The trail is a fairly clean dirt singletrack, although a bit susceptible to muddy conditions in wet weather. Rocks and plants tend to crowd closer in to the Horse Trail than they will on Embudo Trail
, and can make the path a little technical at times. Tree shade provides some nice relief from the sun in warmer months but can make ice linger in cooler weather.
The initial third of a mile is a flat, winding trip through the trees that opens up to the first of many excellent vistas. The Horse Trail then begins a quick descent until reaching the mile point, crossing a few faint trails as it goes. Most of these are short exploratory paths that don't go far from the main trail, with the exception of Embudo Shortcut
, a steep connector to the north. It then enters an interesting field of boulders, running abruptly into an enormous one just before the shortcut. Circle around clockwise, then turn left at the tall wooden signpost on the other side.
Still descending, the Horse Trail begins to enter the flatland portions of the Open Space. Markers are placed intermittently along the path to help in this maze-like area. The path passes through a wooden gate and crosses Mano Trail, changing from hard packed dirt to gritty sand and crossing the first of two wooden footbridges. The Horse Trail flattens as it briefly joins the Foothills Trail, splitting off again to the right after a few hundred feet. The second footbridge follows.
The final segment of Embudo Horse Trail is a half-mile clockwise circle around a foothill. Clinging to the side of the hill, the trail overlooks a grassy valley to the south and picturesque New Mexican-style homes to the west. Enjoy this last panoramic view as the trail descends to its finishing point, an intersection with Trail 401 and Embudo Trail