Hike to Sandia Peak Tramway 10378' Via Tree Springs Trail
(Sandia Mountains - Albuquerque, New Mexico)

An Excellent Hike in Albuquerque
Looking for a mountain ascent that's not "too easy" but not "too difficult"? I recommend this hike: the tree spring trail which leads 3.75 miles up to Sandia Peak, the site of the upper terminal of the Sandia Peak Tramway. The elevation at the trailhead is ~8000 feet, which provides a 2400' gain. This hike can probably be done in all seasons, but it may be most desirable in summer where the temperatures are much cooler than the heat of Albuquerque.

Directions: From Tijeras, travel north on Highway 14 past Cedar Crest and make a left onto the Sandia Peak Scenic Byway (Highway 528) in San Antonito. You'll see the huge sign. This road heads to the top of Sandia Crest. Take 528 approximately 5-6 miles and the Tree Springs Trailhead is on your left. There is a $3 self-pay fee for parking.

Sandia Peak Tramway
The hike is mostly through forest, but then you'll have stunning views at the top ... including the tramway. :)

Photos and video by Steve Garufi in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Tree Springs Trailhead


June 6, 2015 - The beginning of the Tree Springs Trail. Hike upward for two miles on the easy-to-track trail.
Tree Springs Trail, NM A nice shot of the forest.
Horned Toad I almost stepped on this horned toad. Thankfully, he remained still as I photographed him. :)
Tree Springs Trail After two miles, hikers will approach this junction of trails. The Tree Springs Trail officially ends and you have three choices.

  • WALK PAST THE FENCE AND GO LEFT: This leads along the ridge where one can hop off the trail to scramble up Point 9627'. I do believe this option is the southerly route of the Sandia Crest Trail, but signage does not indicate that. It is frustrating.

  • WALK PAST THE FENCE AND GO STRAIGHT: This is the option you want to reach Sandia Peak and the Tramway Terminal! From here, this is the Sandia Crest Trail and it leads for another 1.75 miles. There's plenty more uphill to go. While the trail is easy to follow, there is no signage and it can be a little scary if you're not acquainted with the area. (I've found most maps of the Sandia Mountains are useless as well.) There are two switchbacks near the top. Just keep working it uphill.

  • TURN RIGHT BEFORE THE FENCE: This is the 10K Trail. It meanders and reaches the lower parts of the ski slopes. I have no idea why someone named it the 10K Trail; the elevation is not 10,000 feet.
  • South Sandia Peak, NM At the second switchback, I was on the ridge with just a few tenths of a mile to go. Here was the stunning view of South Sandia Peak to the south. So pretty.
    Sandia Crest Trail Am I closer? How much longer? Am I there yet? All those questions were running through my mind.

    Then I saw two people casually wandering. This is when I KNEW the tramway was near. This friendly couple from Farmington had ridden the tram up, and we hiked back together. :)

    Sandia Peak, New Mexico Throughout the hike, I encountered a small handful of people. Now, at the top, there were crowds of people!

    For those who've climbed Pikes Peak or Mount Evans in Colorado, you'll have a similar experience of encountering happy tourists who arrived by car, train, tram, etc. ... while you're super sweaty and tired. :p)

    Sandia Peak Tramway

    Sandia Peak Tramway

    Two photos of the tramway. The views are unbelievable!

    Sandia Tram Albuquerque There are observation decks all over. Here's one facing Albuquerque.
    Sandia Peak Ski Area

    Sandia Ski Run, NM

    The views on to the east aren't shabby either. Two images of the ski runs and mountains beyond.

    Other hikes and photos in the region:
  • Tecolote Peak
  • Cedro Peak
  • Point 6860'
  • Drive to Sandia Crest
  • Cycling Tijeras Canyon
  • Steve Yours truly with my hair standing up. It was so windy! Happy hiking to you. :)

    I ate an apple, gulped down more Gatorade, and then headed back the way I came.


    The Sandia Peak Tramway Upper Terminal.

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