Tunnel Spring Loop
Hike this hike for the views of Cabezon and the Jemez and San Pedro mountains. If you hike in the summer, you will also be rewarded with many varied cactus blooms.
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||5:00.|
|Usage (people/hour):||2.20. All of the people (9) were in the first half mile or so.|
|130X130B||Trail junction||Junction of 130 (Tunnel Spring) and 130B|
|TUNL SPRTH||Trailhead||Tunnel Spring trailhead|
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|
|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:
Exit 242 (Placitas) from I-25 and head east. After about 4.9 miles, turn right on Tunnel Spring Rd, which is also Forest Road 231. Continue following the Forest Road signs, as you wind your way amongst the houses. After about 1.3 miles, you cross a cattle guard and are at the first parking area (this is where the fee payment stuff is). A second parking area is just up the hill, and it has the toilet and trash cans.
About the hike:
As you start this trail, you immediately get views of the Jemez.
Several of these cicadas were singing as we hiked.
At the wilderness boundary sign (GPS: 130X130B), go right. The trail is less distinct than the other choice (or, it was when we hiked this trail).
These horsetails grow near streams. Their high silica content made them good for scouring pans, hence their common name Scouringrush horsetail.
The trail heads up, and it is rocky. This part of the trail might be hazardous going down; the small rocks are like little ball bearings. Luckily, this is a loop trail, so you will not need to come back down.
The views of the Jemez remain excellent.
The trail joins 130; take the left branch at this junction. The trail now starts gently descending.
You are above one cliff, and below another. You probably do not want to trip and fall up here. On the other hand, the views are great to the west through north.
You can see down to the trailhead from up here. This photo shows the two parking areas.
As the trail descends, it also turns to the east. You can see the San Pedro mountains. It also opens up and dries out. You really need a hat here in the summer.
It is in this area where you start to really see the cactus, such as this claret cup that was blooming...
...or this opuntia flower.
If you have sharp eyes, you may see animals such as this lizard.
After you start getting views down into Placitas, you will return to the junction where you turned and went uphill.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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