“A tough hike with a surprising amount of climbing and a nice downhill ending.”
— Brian Pilgrim
Fall Colors · Views
Hike begins and ends at a paid parking lot with a $3 fee.
Like many hikes on the eastern slope of the Sandia, this hike is mostly wooded with several big views. Unlike most of the more well-known hike on Sandia, this one takes place largely in the more remote and much less used northeast quadrant of the mountain. Apart from the trailhead at the 10K parking lot, it is common not to see another person for the entire first third to half of the hike. The lower portion of the hike has great views of Edgewood and Placitas while the North Crest Trail #130N
portion has great views of the western slopes of the Sandias and Albuquerque.
Need to Know
The 10k Trail #200
parking lot has a $3 fee and there are really no free roadside pull-out parking nearby. The parking lot has public restrooms. There are also public restrooms and a small restaurant grill at the Crest House.
The hike starts and ends at the 10k Trail #200
parking lot on the right-hand side of the Crest Road. The 10K Trailhead is at the west end of the parking lot. Head north on the 10k Trail #200
until you hit its intersection with Osha Loop Trail #201
and then turn right (downhill).
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
Flora & Fauna
Trees include Ponderosa
Pine, Gamble Oak
, Douglas Fir, and Aspen. Wildlife you might see are deer, wild turkey and Albert's squirrel. Wildlife in the area that you are unlikely to see are black bear, mountain lion and bobcat. I have a few friends who has see black bear in the Sandia, but I have not encountered one in my 15 years of hiking the mountain. I have seen two bobcats but both were in the lower, western Sandia Foothill. I have only had one friend see a bobcat in the Sandia Mountains along the Crest Trail.
History & Background
According to the Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide, the Peñasco Blanco Trail was built in 1982 and followed an obscure trail that was used by early homesteaders for access to Osha Spring.