Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,800.00 ft (853.44 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.50 mi (15.29 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Less well-known than the nearby La Luz Trail, Pino Trail is another that climbs to the Sandia Crest from the west side. It is shorter than La Luz and does not go as high, instead reaching a saddle at a point farther south. If you don't want to take on the challenging La Luz Trail, Pino makes an easier alternative. It's still a day's worth of hiking for most, however. The trail climbs nearly 2800 feet. It's quite steep in sections, some parts are overgrown, and conditions can be unpredictable in the mountains. The reward is to stand on the Sandia Crest, with a view off both sides of the range.

The hike begins from Elena Gallegos Open Space, which costs only $1 to enter on weekdays and $2 on weekends. From there, the well-marked Pino Trail goes through the park, among broadly spaced cholla and juniper. You'll see the cliff-lined Sandia Crest looming ahead and Albuquerque unfolding behind. Soon the trail enters the wilderness area in Cibola National Forest. Shortly after, it begins to climb more steeply. Gentle ups and downs lead to steeper ups, as the trees become taller and denser. Juniper and pinyon give way to ponderosa and oak. The trail goes in and out of sun and shade, passing through regenerating burn areas with wide open views. The final stretch is on broad switchbacks through dark conifer forest, just before emerging at the saddle. There, Pino Trail ends at a junction with the Crest Trail, which continues both north and south. Go just a bit beyond the junction to find a modest rock outcropping with a view. Looking toward Sandia Peak you can see part of the tramway spanning giant teeth of granite, leading to the limestone-banded crown of the mountain.

Remember that the highest elevations tend to be cold and windy. Even on a day that's hot at the trailhead, it could be blustery up high. The upper reaches usually have snow through the winter and into the spring. Midsummer monsoons present risk of violent storms, so watch the weather closely and descend if it gets unsafe. The best times of year for this trail are generally late spring, early summer, and early fall, though it can be good year round if you are prepared for the conditions.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Admission Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Diverse vegetation. Somewhat shaded.

Cons

Overgrown in places. Limited views from the top.

Trailhead Elevation

6,470.00 ft (1,972.06 m)

Highest point

9,220.00 ft (2,810.26 m)

Features

Family friendly
Vault toilet
Big vistas
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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