Like other mountain ranges that dominate city skylines, Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains are too easily taken for granted.
The Sandias’ diverse hiking trails
range from the lung-busters that scale the west side’s
granite face to lush trails on the east that meander through mixed
conifers. But how many of the city’s half-million residents
take advantage of those trails? Far too few, and most of them
can’t name more than a handful of the hundred-odd wildflowers
that bloom every year. (My own favorites are the skyrockets, wild
roses and Mexican hats; other surprises include the fairy slipper
orchid, the mariposa lily and the pasque flower, which blooms at
Now, the University of New Mexico Press has
published two new books to guide adventurous folks through the
trails — and histories — of these mountains. Mike
Coltrin’s Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide
describes almost 60 trails, including the 26-mile long Crest Trail,
and the Movie Trail, created for the 1962 movie Lonely are
the Brave, which was based on Ed Abbey’s novel
The Brave Cowboy. Coltrin’s book rates the
difficulty level of trails and offers GPS waypoints and a great
Curious hikers who hope to do more than
break a sweat can tuck the Field Guide to the Sandia
Mountains into their packs. Edited by Robert Julyan and
Mary Stuever and funded by local donors, this book is the
brainchild of the nonprofit Friends of the Sandia Mountains. The
book’s 18 chapters are written by regional experts on
everything from weather to lichens, trees to birds, archaeology to
cross-country skiing. It’s a fun book, offering a
comprehensive view of the mountain range that frames the eastern
edge of the city, and at sunset transforms its dusty western face
to a glowing pink.
Odes to an urban mountain range
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