A popular late-Spring to late-Fall hiking or biking route along the easiest roads and double tracks that lead to the highest points and the best views in any direction on Pajarito Mountain. The 1,200 foot climb is strenuous, but the temperature is usually cool (about 10 degrees lower than in Los Alamos due to the elevation) and the shade of forest makes this a very pleasant and enjoyable location in the late Spring through mid-Fall.
Park at Parjarito Mountain along Camp May Road near the ski lodge. Follow the gravel road (Lower East Road) heading southeast from the lodge, taking the uphill roads (bearing right). After about 0.75 miles the road takes a switchback towards the west Upper East Road. In another 0.5 miles the road reaches another switchback and climbs southward to an intersection of roads.
Take a right and continue up the hill, but be sure to stop along this section and take in excellent views to the northeast (Wheeler Peak) and east (Truchas Peaks and Santa Fe Baldy). At the top of the Lone Spruce lift, a new set of views open up to the north and south. Take a left (south) behind the lift and you can relax and eat a snack/lunch on the south-facing wooden deck with excellent views of the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque.
Follow the lower road on this side of the mountain to the right (west). In about 0.3 miles the road reaches an intersection. Turn right and proceed uphill to the back of Aspen Lift. Before reaching Aspen Haus (a Ski Patrol building) take in the views to the west that include the southern portion of the Valles Caldera National Preserve (Pajarito Mountain forms part of the eastern wall of an ancient volcano). At Aspen Haus follow the singletrack west (Aspen For Trouble) down the hill and past and around the holding pond. Follow the road west of the pond uphill to the Mother Lift. Take the southward trail directly behind Mother Lift about 100 yards and it opens up into a 180 degree panoramic view to the south. Several memorials have been located in this area that are worth visiting. Spend some time taking in the views, eat a snack, and drink some water.
Backtrack to the Mother Lift and take a left heading west. You'll pass the "Fab Four" double-black diamond ski runs on your right. The road reaches a corner that is the boundary with the Valles Caldera National Preserve and offers a new set of spectacular views of the northeast portion of the Valles Toledo. Wildflowers are abundant and Fall colors are excellent from this vantage point. Head north down the hill and follow the road back up over a small hill for about 0.4 miles where the road reaches an intersection. Take a sharp right on Road 1. Keep heading downhill at the next two intersections in 0.25 and 0.6 miles. The road passes under the Mother (double chair) and Aspen Lifts (triple chair). About 100 yards after passing under the Aspen lift the road turns sharp to the west in a switchback back under Aspen lift.
In about 0.25 miles the road intersects Road 0. Take a right eastward again heading downhill. This road leads directly back to the ski lodge and the end of the loop in another 0.35 miles. There are many other biking and hiking/running trail options on this mountain that can be explored. Go to skipajarito.com/
to download summer hiking/biking and winter skiing maps.