July 23, 2015
Although this is primarily a travel/camping blog, I didn't travel very far for this day trip. Nonetheless, as most of you are not local to the Albuquerque area, you would be traveling if you came to central New Mexico, so I feel justified in posting these photos here.
Anyone visiting the Albuquerque area should visit "The Crest" at the top of the Sandia Mountains, directly west (and ~5000 feet above) the city. The section of trail I hiked is approximately 10,400'; the crest itself is about 200' higher. It is called the crest, rather than the peak, as the highest part of the mountains does not come to a traditional peak, but is instead a long upthrust cliff. The Sandia Mountains are part of the Cibola National Forest and much of them are a designated wilderness area. There are no camping areas in the Sandias, only day-use areas
To reach the trail I drove up the east side of the mountain via NM-14 and -536, however a very popular way up the mountain without driving is the Sandia Peak Tramway. (The name "Sandia Peak" is the trade name for the aerial tramway and the ski trails down the east side of the mountain. There is a North Sandia peak and a South Sandia peak, but they are not the top of the mountain. Yeah, confusing, I know.)
I hiked from the Ellis Trailhead up to the central section of the Sandia Crest Trail at the north end of the big meadow, then followed the trail to the tram terminal and back. There were lots of visitors who rode up the tram and were hiking the trail along with me. There is also a restaurant at the tram terminal, though I didn't eat there.
The views are spectacular and the wildflowers were in full bloom. Most of the flower photos were taken with my macro lens, but I tried to include a few photos with a wider view. In retrospect I should have taken a few photos of the trail itself, but it never occurred to me at the time.
You can click on any photo to see them all at a larger size; you may use your arrow keys to move from one photo to the next. The enlarged view also allows you to read the caption embedded in each photo. This caption will contain the name of the flower or critter in the photo.
|A view from the ridge toward the southwest with Albuquerque below in the distance.|
|This little guy was not happy to see me. He was so close I couldn't fit all of him in the photo.|
|Looking south along the ridge|
|Looking down at a section of the cliff with wildflowers in every crevice.|
|These amazing spikes were 3 to 4 feet tall.|
|A close view of the flower clusters from the plant above.|
|A rare beauty living in the crevice of a very large boulder.|
|A close-up of the flowers of the plant above.|
|These daisy-like flowers were growing right on the exposed ridge.|
|This species of Paintbrush is short and is found in the rocks right on the ridge.|
|The tram was just arriving at the terminal|
|This Sego Lilly grows only a few inches high.|
|This species of Paintbrush is taller and is found in the moister & shady areas of the trail.|
|View to the west with the Kiwanis Cabin at the top of the cliff (middle right).|
Thank you for viewing my photos. I hope you enjoyed them.