Despite the fact that these mountains tower above the very nearby sprawl of Albuquerque and despite the fact that the trails of this Wilderness may be more heavily used than any other trail system in the state, Sandia Mountain Wilderness still provides an opportunity to get out of town . . . but be prepared to work for your solitude. The area lies primarily on the western slope of the Sandia Mountains, but it crosses over to the eastern side at the north and south ends. Spruce and fir dominate the high country, with stands of mixed conifers just below. Many raptors migrate through these mountains in spring and fall, sharing their territory with a few mule deer and black bears. Accessible from the tram is the Crest Trail, which runs along 26.54 miles of the main ridge of the Sandias at an elevation averaging 10,000 feet. There are 117 miles of well-maintained trails here, but you have the best chance of avoiding other hikers if you stick to side trails. Carry water, as there is very little in this region.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(No official title, boundary adjustment for Sandia Mountain Wilderness) - Public law 96-248 (5/23/1980) To amend the Act of November 8, 1978 (92 Stat. 3095), to designate certain Cibola National Forest lands as additions to the Sandia Mountains Wilderness, New Mexico
(No official title, adds to Sandia Mountain Wilderness) - Public law 97-283 (10/5/1982) To further amend the boundary of the Cibola National Forest to allow an exchange of lands with the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico