Sunday Hikes: Sandia Cave Trail

Just east of Albuquerque sit the Sandia Mountains, rising up to twice the height of the city. Every time I have visited Albuquerque I have wanted to go and explore the mountains and on our last trip to New Mexico I finally got to! We entered the Sandia Mountains area going south on 165 which is a dirt 4wd road halfway through the mountains before turning to a paved highway by Sandia Crest (the tallest point in the range). Somewhere along the road we found a small parking lot for the Sandia Cave Trail and decided to check it out! 


The trail was pretty short but gained a good bit of elevation for being less than a mile long. At the end of the trail we came to a small spiral staircase on the side of a cliff that took us up to the cave. The stairs didn’t really feel safe but we didn’t die so I guess they were a little safe. 


At the top of the stairs there is probably ten feet before you hit a waist high brick wall that we climbed over to get into the cave. We didn’t expect to go crawl in the cave so we only had one head lamp and our phone lights with us but thanks to some firefighters at the entrance we were encouraged to go check it out. The cave is very dry and extremely dusty but is a nice cool escape from the New Mexico heat. The end of the cave was probably half of a mile tops from the entrance and we crawled on our bellies or hands and knees most of the way. After crawling to the end and back we emerged looking like Oompa Loompas from all the orange dirt and dust in the cave. We headed back to the Jeep and continued on with our day covered in orange dirt! 


Despite the trail being nothing this hike is really cool and unique compared to any other trails I’ve done. This is the only easily accessible cave I know of in a national forest that is so unregulated. There wasn’t a single warning sign about cave ins or all the dust you will inhale in the cave. I would recommend this trail to anyone unless your claustrophobic and I want to do it again already! 

Thanks! – Josh

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