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blue Otero Canyon Loop

  3.3 ( 6 ) Favorite


5.5 mile 8.8 kilometer loop


Ascent: 640' 195 m
Descent: -638' -194 m
High: 7,337' 2,236 m
Low: 6,798' 2,072 m


Avg Grade: 4% (3°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)


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A nice 5.0-mile loop south of Tijeras.

Pete Gomez

Features Birding · Views


This is a short loop hike that's easy to get to, well signed, part shaded, and only gains 500 feet in 2.5 miles.

Need to Know

As always, have sun protection and lots of water if you attempt this in the summer heat. In late summer, watch the weather. A monsoon storm might suddenly be upon you in the afternoon. If there is lighting, descend immediately.


Begin at the Otero Trailhead on Rt. 337. Head south on pavement which quickly switches to dirt as you veer left to the Otero Canyon Trail. Otero Canyon Trail goes in and out of shade as you gently ascend 300 feet on your way to Gnasty Trail. At the turn, there are trail signs and also Air Force property warning signs. Please heed the signs for safety. At the trail junction, you make a sharp left and continue on Gnasty. Heavy use by mountain bikes has left deep ruts in places. Lots of loose rocks on the trail.

Gnasty Trail rises another 200 feet where you'll leave the shade and approach the height of land. As you travel eastward, there are great views of the area. Watch your footing; there are rocks and roots. Several improvised trails branch off without any signs. Best views from the loop are from Gnasty Trail. If you stay on the paths showing heaviest use you'll get to the sign at intersection with Blue Ribbon Trail.

Take a left turn on Blue Ribbon Trail. The elevation will go up-and-down a little. After about 0.5 miles (3.6 mi. into the hike), you'll again reach the height of land before your 2.0 miles of descent. There will be plenty of trees around you but they don't provide any shade. Blue Ribbon Trail drops you at the intersection where you took the Otero Canyon Trail. Turn right (north) to return to your vehicle.

If I did this over again, I would not descend Blue Ribbon Trail because of the annoying uneven loose rocks on the way down that threaten to twist an ankle. I would reverse course over the Gnasty Trail and Otero Canyon Trail. I cannot recall anything very interesting on this part of the loop that justifies the bad footing.


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Sep 3, 2018
Maxwell Marquez
Mallory Garcia and Maxwell Marquez 5.5mi
Sep 2, 2018
Jared Warren
5.5mi — 2h 30m
Apr 23, 2018
Tenzin Chuteng
Apr 2, 2018
Brian Meier
Baby’s first hike! 5-month old in ergo was no problem. No scrambling or other obstacles. Fair wind & plenty of shade kept us cool after a late star…
Feb 18, 2018
Casey Behm
Dec 16, 2017
Holly B

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 6 votes


  3.3 from 6 votes
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in New Mexico


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