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Foothills Rock Garden
If you're passing through Albuquerque and want a nice bit of leg stretching relief, hop off of the Interstate on Tramway Road and drive up to the base of the Sandia Mountains. There you will find a wide variety of getaway trails and this little diversion trail that is good for two to three hours of cross slope waundering. The trail departs right from the Tramway terminal, heading north across the lower face of the mountain range (just above the neighborhoods sprawling below). It is a delightful meander through dense growth rock gardens, full of desert greenery. Our mid May trek gave us a spectacle of bright Hedgehog cacti blooms, accented with the whites, yellows, and oranges of numerous other dessert bloomers.
The trail dips up and down, and is intersected by numerous worn paths (the ready availability of multiple accesses from the neighborhoods make for lots of waundering traffic up to play in the rocks), but the trail is very heavily signed and labeled. You can stay on track. It would be a very good idea to take along a MyTopo printout just to make it easier. Around the 2 mile mark the trail is intersected by a crossing trail and the logical feel is to turn to the right and follow the path upwards. In fact, that would be diverting on to T137B... if you continue straight you will move easily uphill for another .3 of a mile and connect with La Luz trail (T137) the effective end of this route and the turnaround point for the hike.
The Tramway Trail is really a cross connecting trail allowing access over to La Luz trail (T137) the trail that moves to the top of the range. It is a typical pattern to hike La Luz up to the top and then enjoy a nice Tram ride back down the mountain. Instead of parking at the La Luz trailhead and having to walk the 3 miles back over to the car at the end of the hike, instead park right at the Tramway. The same pattern is repeated in reverse for those a bit less adventurous: ride the Tram up, and enjoy a nice downhill hike back to the car.
That intersected trail (T137B) also connects to La Luz, just a bit longer and 1000' higer up the mountain. Really, it is much nicer to follow that trail to round out your hike. It is a great little section with views overlooking the switchbacks on La Luz across the drainage, and winding up and under some much appreciated shade. You could also opt to return by dropping down La Luz back to the Tramway junction, returning on the original trail, creating a pleasant lasso loop.
Take lots of water... this western side of the mountain is fully sun exposed.
There are vending machines, bathrooms, and even a Mexican restaurant at the Tramway... and, there is that nice Tram ride to add to the hours, if desired. This is the longest tramway in the world and offers spectaculor views of the surrounding mountains and valley below. Round trip ticket is $17... one way $9. there is a $1 parking fee to enter the area.
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