New Mexico is one of those states that’s not easy to pin down. With varied landscapes from mountains to high deserts, hiking New Mexico has it all. This “land of enchantment” also has some of the most spectacular rock formations, hot springs and canyons you’ll find anywhere on the planet. So it’s no wonder that thousands of people hit the trails in this wondrous state and take a look around. Here are four great trails to get your boots dirty:
La Luz Trail, Albuquerque
Just to the east of Albuquerque lies the Sandia Mountains, known for their steep rising peaks of rocky cragginess. One of the best ways to explore the area and get a tremendous workout is to tackle the 8.8 mile La Luz Trail. This trail is definitely not for the faint of heart or lungs as it traverses up a switchback from the base of the mountain to the peak at 10,678 feet. Once at the summit, take in the views of the Albuquerque valley to the west.
San Antonio Hot Springs, Jemez
If you are a hot springs enthusiast, the San Antonio Hot Springs is definitely not one to miss. Much more impressive than other nearby hot springs such as Spence or McCauley, the San Antonio Hot Springs is located outside Jemez Springs west of Santa Fe. Just a short distance from a 4X4 road, the hot springs can be reached by a 2-mile hike or a 7-mile hike if you choose to walk the road instead of drive as on occasion this road in impassable. Before reaching the hot springs, you’ll pass a beautiful valley with wild flowers and green grass. A river winds through with huge rock formations all around leading you to the hot springs and the total bliss that will soon ensue.
East Fork Trail, Jemez
While the hike along the East Fork of the Jemez River is a fairly easy task, the geography is something altogether extraordinary. Located off Hwy 4, the East Fork Trail also includes some of New Mexico’s most spectacular cliff jumps. The complete East Fork trail is 10 miles out and back, but the cliff jumps are located just a few miles from the highway. Midway through the hike is McCauley Warm Springs where you can soak your feet and take a break. Meandering through meadows and forests, this trail rises about 1,000 feet from Battleship to Jemez Falls. Both trailheads are located near the highway making this route easy to shuttle if you so desire.
Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe
New Mexico has such a varied landscape, and no hike is more emblematic of that diversity than the Diablo Canyon trail outside Santa Fe. As opposed to ponderosa pines, this hike has nearly zero shade travelling along a dried up riverbed. The steep rising canyon walls rise from the desert floor almost vertically like giant columns of stone. Be sure to watch the weather, though, as flash floods can make this area dangerous.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons