La Luz Trail

#1 of 3 trails in elena gallegos picnic area

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8.8 mile trail at the north end of the Sandias, goes from the base of the mountain to the peak at 10,678'. Beautiful views of the Albuquerque valley to the west.

Trail starts at around 6500' in elevation and is fairly easy walking. Eventually getting steeper with switchbacks and altitude starts to affect you. It doesn't help to rest. Keep moving even at a slow pace. A steady pace will get you to the top in about 3-4 hours. If you dawdle it will take you longer.

My druthers is to park a vehicle at the base of Sandia Tram, drive a second vehicle to the La Luz Trailhead, walk up, have lunch at the top and ride the tram down. I would rather climb than descend.

I have walked it in 2.5 hours but generally runs closer to 3-3.5 hours. First time I did it I didn't know what to expect and it took about 5 hours but it is more mental than physical. Once you know what to expect and try it you set a benchmark for yourself and try improving from there.

As you get a mile or so from the top you run into tourists who start at the top, wander down the trail for a mile or less then turn back to the top. Same at the bottom. Many start the trail, go up a couple of miles and then turn back. which leaves about 5 miles of trail with not much foot traffic.

Make sure and take plenty of water (I like a full camelback with 1.5 liters of water)

Take I25 North to Exit at Tramway Blvd. East (exit #234). Continue east on Tramway Blvd. 4 miles on a long uphill past the Sandia Casino, to Forest Service Road 333. Take this rough uphill road to the Juan Tabo Picnic Ground. 2)

Parking fees are $3 and parking is generally good and easy to find places. Signs will lead you to the La Luz Trail Head.

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

Hardest hike I've done yet. Really enjoyed it. Would recommend to anyone interested in a tough hike. 5-7 miles are the hardest, but you can make it!

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

Hiked this one last Sunday, perfect weather. partially the new trail, partially the old. Ranger Dave came by and said Hi, 85 years old and still hikes the old trail to the 5 mile mark twice a week

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14 Completed 2 Reviews

Loved finally checking this hike off my list. Make sure you bring enough food to keep up your energy.

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Karen Chertok

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5 Completed 3 Reviews

I hiked this trail in preparation for a hike in Peru...it's a great hike for those wanting to adjust/prepare for higher altitudes.

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

I am an Albuquerque native and frequent exerciser but just started hiking about a month ago. The first time I went up La Luz I went to the 4.6 mile marker and then turned around because of high wind. The second time I went up with my kids, 7 and 9, and we went 4 miles up and then back just because I had no idea what their endurance was like. They did fine but it certainly wore them out. Then I went up with my friend who works out but does not hike and we went the 8 miles up to the tram and then went all the way back down the way we came. During the ascent we took only 2 breaks..one 10 minute break at mile 4 and then one 15 at mile 6. The whole trip took 6 hours and 40 minutes Needless to say that kicked our asses and our legs were pretty much dead. Then I decided to take my kids up the next weekend and we went all the way to the top with a few breaks that totaled 22 minutes. I carried my daughter up some of it when she said she was tired so we could keep a good pace. That trip took 3 hours and 50 minutes. It's a very challenging hike for sure but I'm hooked and want to get faster at it. Miles 5-7 are the most challenging in my opinion. The views are spectacular and I would recommend this hike to anyone. I'm looking forward to winter now so I can snow shoe the last 4 miles!

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72 Completed 39 Reviews

Enjoyed the hike up and down the trail, the last 1/2 mile had some snow pack but was not bad at all nice views of the Rio Grande Valley, Mount Taylor, Jemez and beyond

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Ryan Noone

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3 Completed 4 Reviews

I do this trail a lot with my dogs. Best time to go is just before sun up - the light (la luz) is the best and no crowds. Not that difficult to round trip it in 4 hrs or less for people in good shape. Cool side trails to take too like up the creek bed or chimney canyon.

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2 Completed 2 Reviews

An amazing experience. Me and my buddy hiked from the lower tram where our car was parked. From there, the tramway trail (2.2) miles takes to the beginning of the La Luz trail. The first 2 miles as others mention are pretty much walk in the smaller foot hills and slight elevation. After that the real deal starts when you pick up the area between the valley. Lush green and the ecology changes. Desert flora change to alpine gradually. Last 3 miles - strenuous. The rock really get to you. Cold gushing winds almost near freezing and pretty vertical climb, quite an experience.

My 2 cents - water water water (at least 2 liters) , layers layers layers, shoes, snacks and a nice camera.
FYI - people routinely living in the sea level region, beware of acute mountain sickness. (see wikipedia or ask your primary care doctor). I would advise you to ask your primary care doctor for some 'acetazolamide' for prevention.
I routinely live at 600 feet altitude - flew to ABQ which is at 5500 feet and the peak is 10,600. The ascent is quite rapid and I had some minor symptoms of the AMS. Just FYI, something to keep in mind.

And yeah ! did I tell you the feeling after reaching the top --> for lack of better terms 'almost as ecstatic as an orgasm'. No kidding, the joy and satisfaction of all the hard work.... totally orgasmic.

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

Parked car at the Tram, walked to the la luz trail, was a cool morning - was awesome to make it to the top! We did have to wait awhile for the TRAM to get off the mtn. It was an awesome hike but if you are going to take the tram down leave an extra hour to wait for it. Wear good boots, dress for cool weather in the fall, it can get really cold up there and take it slow on the rocky area.

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32 Completed 17 Reviews

Parked one car at the tram parking lot, parked the second at the La Luz trailhead further north. Took the tram back down from the top. Great day for this hike. Total hike was around 8 miles and took us a little over 4 hours. Great views. Both shady (chilly) and sunny spots. Lots of rock slides to traverse. Wished I would have worn my hiking boots instead of trail runners.

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