Crest Trail between the parking lot and the Tram terminal
Both natives and people visiting Albuquerque hike this easy trail for its spectacular views. If you hike this trail, you will be rewarded by views of Albuquerque, Mt. Taylor, the Jemez mountains, the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the San Pedro mountains, the Manzano mountains, and Ladron peak, just to name a few. In the summer you can enjoy the wildflowers along the trail. At any time of year you can experience the history of the CCC by visiting the Kiwanis cabin.
You can hike from the Crest parking lot to the terminal and restaurant at the top of the tram. Or, ride the tram up and hike it the other way. The trail is well signed, and in spite of the collection of trails all over the crest, it is hard to get lost. In fact, this collection of trails makes it possible for you to do different parts in each direction for much of the hike.
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||2:40.|
|Usage (people/hour):||12.00. Rocks in the trail are worn smooth from all the traffic.|
|CR1||Trail point||Rock stairs on the Crest-Tram trail|
|CR2||Trail junction||Crest-Tram trail and trail to Kiwanis Cabin|
|CREST||Trailhead||Crest trailhead (and scenic point)|
|KCABIN||Trail point||Kiwanis Cabin on Sandia Crest|
Maps:Geohack online map list Paper maps:
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|Albuquerque New Mexico||USGS||1983||1:100000||Y||from sar.lanl.gov (free)|
|Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District||US Forest Service||2006||1:63360||N||From the National Forest Store (purchase)||Sandia Ranger District portion|
|Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District||US Forest Service||2006||1:24000||Y||From the National Forest Store (purchase)||Sandia Crest enlargement portion|
|Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah||Automobile Club of Southern California||1998||1:0||N||Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (purchase)||Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.|
|Wildernesses of New Mexico||US Forest Service||1981||1:1000000||N||No online copies.||Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.|
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Getting to the trailhead:
To get to the parking lot (GPS: CREST): Take I-40 to the North 14 exit (exit 175). Go north 5.75 miles from when you pass under I-40 until you get to a triangle of asphalt with a road heading west. There are signs on both sides of the road indicating that this is the road to the crest. Take it the 14 winding miles where you will arrive at the parking lot at the very top. There is a lot of guardrail damage along the road; watch your speed around the curves. You can also take the tram up to the tram terminal. To get to the tram, head north about nine miles on Tramway from I-40 (exit 167) or East on Tramway from I-25 (exit XXX). The turnoff to the tram is at a three-way stop. The tram people have a nice map showing how to get there.
About the hike:
Starting from the parking lot, head south from the parking lot. Or, to take the upper part of the trail, head south along the edge of the crest to the right of the pit toilets. You might take the nature trail. It parallels the main trail, and rejoins it later, so you can take either it or the regular trail. No matter which trail you are taking, you start by heading south. Along the cliff it may be very windy. The wind is frequent and strong; notice the flagging of the trees. The trail near the parking lot is rocky. Shortly after you climb the rock stairs (CR1), you enter the forest and there are lots of down trees. They have been cut where they fell across the trail. In the forest, the trail is usually smooth.
To return from the tram terminal, head north on Crest Trail 130. There is a nature trail up here which parallels the main trail and will rejoin it later. You are walking amongst aspen and fir, with bluebells and strawberries on the ground. Open areas have a variety of wildflowers. At times, you have good views west. Even in the summertime, there may be snow in sheltered areas, depending on how much snow fell in the winter.
After about half an hour of hiking, you will arrive at a junction of the trail to the Kiwanis cabin, 1/4 mile away (GPS: CR2). Turn left.
The Kiwanis cabin (GPS: KCABIN) is 0.5 mi (800m) from the parking lot and 1.5mi (2.4km) from the tram terminal. It was built by the CCC in 1936. What you see there today is the third try; the first two were destroyed by fire and wind. In 1993-1995 the cabin was restored. There is only one route to the cabin from the other trails. If you hiked here in the past, you may have taken one of several. They have been closed to protect wildlife.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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