Albuquerque provides abundant opportunities to enjoy winter sports. Fortunately, there are some snow sports that don't involve lessons, making it so much easier to get out and into the snow. Snowshoeing is a great way to exercise and get outdoors without a lot of fuss. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
Four high altitude mountain ranges lie within 100 miles of Albuquerque: the Jemez, Manzano, Sandias, and Sangre de Cristos. The closest by far is the is the Sandia Mountain range. Snowshoeing in the nearby Sandias provides great family fun in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. There are plenty of trails from which to choose for shusshing through snow on special shoes. The Sandias are a short drive east of Albuquerque, and there are 14 snowshoe/xcountry trails that range from short half mile hikes to one 26.5 miles long.
All trails are within the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest.
Directions to the Sandias
Take I-40 east to the Cedar Crest exit. Take NM 14 north about to NM 536, the Sandia Crest Scenic Highway, the highest scenic drive in the southwest. The eastern slopes of the Sandias provide a stark contrast to the craggy, mountainous western slopes. The evergreens and panoramic view make the ride in and of itself a pleasure.
Where to Snowshoe in Albuquerque
The snowshoe trails range in length and can be found along the scenic byway (NM 536). Find the right distance and find its starting point on a map. Then take off for winter adventure.
The Kiwanis Cabin trail is 0.5 miles long and begins at the Crest House visitor center trailhead and ends at the Kiwanis Cabin.
The Capulin Snow trail is 0.9 miles long and begins in the Capulin snow play area.
Longer trails include the Challenge Snow trail, which is 4.1 miles long and begins at the Sandia Peak ski base, ending at Ellis Th. There is also a 10k Snow trail, which is 4.9 miles long. It begins at Crest 130 and ends at Jct Crest 130 and Tree Spring 147.
The longest trail in the Sandias is the Crest Snow trail. It begins at Tunnel Spring Trailhead and ends at Canyon Estates Trailhead, and is 26.5 miles long.
- Capulin Peak Snow Trail, 0.6 miles
- Capulin Snow Trail, 0.9 miles
- Challenge Snow Trail, 4.1 miles
- 10k Snow Trail, 4.9 miles
- Crest Snow Trail, 26.5 miles
- Ellis Snow Trail, 2.7 miles
- Gravel Pit Snow Trail, 0.8 miles
- Kiwanis Cabin Snow Trail, 0.5 miles
- Nine Mile Snow Trail, 1.2 miles
- Oso Corredor Snow Trail, 2.7 miles
- Rocky Point Snow Trail, 0.7 miles
- Service Road Snow Trail, 0.9 miles
- Survey Snow Trail, 2.7 miles
- Switchback Snow Trail, 1.7 miles
- Tree Spring Snow Trail, 2 miles
If you're up for driving a bit to get in some snowshoeing, the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains offers a pristine and peaceful landscape in which to snowshoe. Cross country skiing is popular there as well. It's possible to explore on a groomed trail, or into the backcountry. Most of the preserves's trails can be explored in snowshoes. Be sure to wear waterproof boots and consider waterproof pants. Poles help with balance. Be sure to talk to the park rangers before setting off to ensure you know which trails are open.
Seasonal conditions vary at the preserve, with some winters providing more snow than others. Snowshoeing usually lasts from mid-November to mid-March.
Get Your Own Snowshoes
Snowshoes can be rented at Routes, Rentals & Tours and REI in Albuquerque. But if you want to trek the snow on a regular basis, having your own snowshoes is the way to go. Click the link to see what's available for everyone in your family. Either location will also provide good advice on where to snowshoe and how to enjoy your outing.
You should also learn about the Sandia Peak Snowshoe Race, which takes place in January every year.