NM – Manzano Mountain Wilderness

I found myself in Albuquerque after my recent trek through San Pedro Parks Wilderness with Joan. Oh how I love our J&J adventures! How will I go at least a year without another? The best antidote is more trail miles! YES YES YES! 

I stopped at REI to find new places to explore and decided to give this nearby wilderness a try. I spent a few days hiking from several trailheads. I found trails to be in varied conditions from well-marked smooth sailing, to cairn routes, to overgrown, deadfall and non-existent. This is an area I recommend having a good map and tracking app or GPS. The last printed map was from 1988 and very outdated due to fires, reroutes and no longer maintained trails. I found some decent intel in a hiking book at REI. 

Albuquerque Trail #78 / Fourth of July Trail #173 Loop

Date Hiked: 5/3/18

My Notes: 5.25-mile, 900′ elevation gain/loss loop. Really enjoyed the variety of trees, shrubs and gentle terrain. Nice switchbacks and soft trail. Pretty healthy forest. Saw one gal at campground but no one at trailhead nor on trail. 

The 2008 Trigo fire burned more than 21,000 acres including much of Manzano Mountain Wilderness.

I loved all the alligator bark trees. 

I didn’t see any significant wildlife but obviously bears roam these mountains. 

Cerro Blanco Trail #79 / Manzano Crest Trail #170 Loop

Date Hiked: 5/4/18

My Notes: 13-mile, 2,300′ elevation gain/loss loop. Trail was fairly well marked and reasonably easy to follow; although some areas quite overgrown. 

I loved finding this spring. 

The views from the Crest Trail (also part of the Grand Enchantment Trail) were open and dramatic. Look closely and you’ll see the cairn marking the trail. 

I wasn’t too excited about coming across this abandoned campsite. 

Nor was I excited about seeing smoke. 

Pine Shadow Trail #170A / Kayser Mill Trail #080 Loop

Date Hiked: 5/6/18

My Notes: 12-mile, 3,000′ elevation gain/loss loop. Trail was a mixed bag from decent to overgrown with deadfall to non existent.  Terrain went from nicely-graded switchbacks to loose slippery rock. 

I definitely needed to take a detour to Manzano Peak. 

Nice trail. 

There were lots of colorful rocks. 

Where oh where is the trail? 

Just say NO! Trail doesn’t exist after the fires.

But the road is right down there . . . maybe I’ll just cut down . . . 

Adventure Date(s):

  • May 3-6, 2018


  • Carry a paper map. Although it was dated 1988, I found it a helpful supplement to my digital version.
  • Obtain trail conditions and water reports from Mountainaire Ranger Station.
  • Be comfortable with trail finding and navigation. These trails are not well traveled nor signed at least during my visit.
  • It’s a dry area and most seasonal streams were dry. Some springs were dry or inaccessible due to fires.



2 thoughts on “NM – Manzano Mountain Wilderness

  1. Hmm, that area gives me a bit of a creepy vibe from the pics. Maybe because of the campsite and the fact it seems so unused. Good thing you are an expert navigator.

    • I didn’t have anything in my notes indicating any real concerns, and I was there early season. I did meet one couple on top of a pass who’d come up the opposite way. I’m guessing it’s busier during the summer. Lack of water though probably limits visitation.

      Looking back at this post, it could have used a bit more flair. It was my first after a few month absence. You know how it takes a while to get back in the groove. I’m there now and have been writing furiously!

      Thanks for reading and writing 🙂

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