10K Crest Trail Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,374' 724 m
Descent: -2,378' -725 m
High: 10,636' 3,242 m
Low: 8,461' 2,579 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)
Current trail conditions
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“A tough hike with a surprising amount of climbing and a nice downhill ending.”— Brian Pilgrim
Follow Osha Loop Trail #201 to its intersection with Osha Spring Trail #247 and turn right again, continuing downhill. There is a massive downed tree at this intersection that blocks your view of the grey post marking the trail, but if you pass the tree and look to your right you'll see the signpost. Continue downhill on Osha Spring Trail #247 for a short distance to it's intersection with the Peñasco Blanco Trail #259. Peñasco Blanco Trail is one of the most remote trails in the Sandia Mountains and serves as a 1.6 mile connector between Osha Spring Trail #247 and the North Crest Trail #130N.
About half-way along Peñasca Blanco, you transition from a wooded area to open scrub land. The trail is indistinct for brief period, maybe 50 yards, but if you look carefully you'll see cairns making the trail. Eventually, Peñasco Blanco Trail intersects with the North Crest Trail #130N, and you'll turn left, heading up to the crest.
Follow the North Crest Trail #130N all the way to the Crest House parking area and follow the lower parking lot across and down to the entrance of the dirt service road that many local hikers know as the starting line for the Sandia Snowshoe race. Follow the service road to Kiwanis Meadow and turn left heading downhill on Switchback Trail #271.
For a good overview trail map, I use the map that goes with the book "Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide." Switchback Trail #271 and several other minor trails in that area such as Buried Cable Trail #272 are not shown on this map. However, it's hard to get lost in this area if you just continue heading downhill though these trails are wide sweeping switchbacks so you aren't literally always heading down. The worst that could happen is that you end up coming out onto the dirt service road that runs between the Ellis Trail #202 parking lot and the upper end of the ski lift. If you have followed the Switchback Trail #271 perfectly, you'll end up at the Ellis Trail #202 parking lot, which you cross, continuing downhill where you pick up the Challenge Trail #233.
If you got off track and find yourself on the dirt service road simply turn left and continue until you hit the parking lot then turn right and head downhill on Challenge Trail #233. I don't think it's possible to get more than a half mile off course. Once on the Challenge Trail #233, continue downhill, and the trail will take you directly to the 10k Trail #200 Trailhead on the south side of the Crest Road, directly across from the 10k Trail #200 parking lot.
Land Manager: USFS - Cibola National Forest Office
May 28, 2019: Please join us for guided Wildflower Walks!