The La Luz Trail
Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Earlier this month, my dad and I took a road trip through the Southwest on our way to visit my grandma in the Phoenix area. En route, we hiked, camped, checked things off our bucket lists, and explored like never before! So, for the next few Wanderlust Wednesdays, I’ll be recapping the highlights of the trip in detail.
First up, the La Luz trail in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.
I’d read about the La Luz in some travel books at the library, and knew it was a must while we were in Albuquerque.
Here are some facts about the hike:
- Located on the west face of the Sandia Mountains.
- Sandia Peak Tramway can take hikers down or up with one way tickets.
- Very strenuous, with 3,775 ft (1,151 m) of elevation gain and a grade of 12%.
- Awesome views of animals, granite cliffs, and plants, as well as scenic views of Albuquerque, cinder cones of the Albuquerque volcanoes, and Mt. Taylor.
- Trail is home to an annual trail run, so runners appear often.
We decided to take the tram up to the peak, hike to Kiwanis Cabin, and then hit up the La Luz and hike down. The Sandia Peak Tram is actually North America’s longest aerial tram!! It took us over deep canyons and gorgeous scenery. Note to self: next time, work on my derp face for elevation pictures.
Once our feet were back on solid ground, our Texas lungs needed some adjusting to the 10,000+ ft elevation. We were glad for the beautiful, clear weather, though. Onward we ventured to Kiwanis cabin!
The cabin, planned by a local Kiwanis chapter, was made in the 1930s of local limestone. You can see it on the cliff edge during the tram ride. My dad is a member of the Kiwanis club in my home town, so we had to check it out! To get there, we had to take the short Crest Spur trail which is about 1.5-2 miles long. It took us near some steep drop offs and a gorgeous meadow. Tons of grasshoppers were out in force, too!
Next thing I knew, we were on a barren cliff edge overlooking Albuquerque. The cabin itself reminded me of ancient Greece. It was so magnificent looking out of its windows at the valley below.
After taking pictures, we found the trailhead for the 8 mile La Luz and began our descent.
There were a lot of large boulders and rocks blanketing parts of the trail, so you definitely had to watch your step at every switchback. For the most part, we stayed in the shaded forest, so the sun was deceivingly absent. The forest was filled with the sound of birds and we even saw a fuzzy caterpillar on the path. Don’t worry, we spared him 😀 There were also a lot of people running down…every time they’d pass us, my calves would cry just thinking about being in their shoes. Talk about beast mode!
When we got out of the treeline and into flat desert, the sun unleashed its wrath. By that time, we were tired and eager to see the tram station/parking lot. Falling victim to the sun’s tricks, I hadn’t been drinking a lot of water during the latter part of the day. The dry, cool air paired with the shade of the trees messed with my thirst levels. Boy, I felt it in the desert. Hardcore. The only thing that kept me going was picturing a giant bottle of cold Ozarka at a gas station haha
Despite the heat wave, we made it down to the trailhead in one sunburned piece! It was an awesome hike, one I’d highly recommend. Although strenuous, the variety of different plants, rocks and animals kept it exciting. In all, we hiked about 10 miles that day and had a blast! Definitely a cool way to experience Albuquerque!