New Mexico hiking offers a lot in the way of variety. You can traipse along trails that are set on desert plains, delve into alpine forests, and take in vast vistas from the tops of peaks that are more than 13,000 feet tall. Navigating your way around a canyon by foot is also an option, and there are hiking trails in New Mexico that are set among astonishing dunes or lead to ancient cave dwellings. Wherever you find yourself in the Land of Enchantment, amazing hiking trails won't be far away, so packing a good pair of hiking boots and bringing along your sense of adventure is recommended.
It's hard to say where the best hiking trails in New Mexico can be found. There are so many good ones, and the landscape changes dramatically from region to region. Numerous parks, national forests, wilderness areas, and national monument areas can be found all over the state, and they are good places to start when trying to find good trails. For those who are spending time in Albuquerque, for example, there are some excellent trails due east of town in the Cibola National Forest. The Sandia Mountains pass through this national forest area, and the trails that are found in them range from easy to strenuous. One of the most strenuous and renowned trails in the Sandia Mountains is the La Luz Trail. You will cover approximately fifteen miles if you execute a round-trip hike on this trail, and the journey starts in the foothills. From there, it's on to the top of the 10,678-foot Sandia Crest. There is a tramway that can take you to the top or bottom of Sandia Crest if you aren't up for a round-trip hike on the La Luz Trail.
Other trails that you might add to your Albuquerque hiking list are the Embudito Trail and the trails at Cedro Peak. The Embudito Trail is actually found in town and offers wonderful views of New Mexico's largest city. It is not the easiest of trails, however, especially if you wish to execute the eleven-mile round trip. As for the Cedro Peak trails, some are among the easier trails in the Albuquerque area, and as such, they can be especially ideal for families with younger children. Hiking in the Cedro Peak area is also ideal for Albuquerque residents or visitors who don't want to stray too far from the city, as it is only about a ten-minute drive away.
As is true of Albuquerque, the capital of Santa Fe is a popular New Mexico vacation destination. Should you be spending time in the capital and you wish to add some hiking to the mix, you will have no shortage of enticing options. National forest trails abound in the Santa Fe area, and wilderness areas like the Pecos Wilderness can be divine places to explore by foot. For those who are truly serious about Santa Fe hiking, then hitting Santa Fe Baldy is recommended. This 12,622-foot mountain to the near northeast of the city is found within the Pecos Wilderness area, and if you hike all the way to the top, you can enjoy scintillating views of the area mountains and the Rio Grande Valley. Lofty mountains are prevalent in the Pecos Wilderness, and should you visit in the fall, you can take in the spectacular fall foliage. The aspen trees that can be found on the mountain flanks turn golden-yellow during the fall season, and this attracts scores of sightseers and photographers.
Hiking in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area isn't the only tantalizing option when it comes to hiking in New Mexico. Between Taos and Red River, for example, Wheeler Peak rises to an elevation of 13,161 feet, and this tallest mountain in the state offers some rewarding hiking opportunities. Should you be visiting the southern part of the state, hiking amidst white gypsum sand dunes is possible at White Sands National Monument.
Farther west in the southern part of New Mexico, the Gila Wilderness Area offers miles upon miles of trails for hikers to enjoy. One of the trails in the Gila Wilderness Area is known as the Catwalk, and it features steel bridges and walkways. These bridges and walkways are suspended over scenic Whitewater Canyon. You might also hike the trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings while spending time in the Gila Wilderness area. These ancient dwellings were carved out more than 700 years ago, and the relatively easy trail that leads to them only takes about 30 minutes to navigate.
The Gila Wilderness Area, it is worth noting, is an excellent example of how diverse the New Mexico landscape can be. One day can see you hiking on a relatively cool mountain trail that is lined with aspens and Douglas firs, and another can have you trekking along a semi-arid lowland tract that features oaks, junipers, and cactus.