New Mexico: Land of Enchantment and Some Excellent Snowshoeing

With many years of combined snowshoeing experience in New Mexico, three Albuquerque locals tell about their favorite trails and favored snowshoes.

VIVIAN HEYWARDvivian
Regents Professor Emerita
Exercise Physiology
University of New Mexico

On snowshoes:

“I was tired of wearing snowshoes that allowed snow to kick up on my back. I didn’t like being wet and uncomfortable. Now my recent and favorite snowshoes are MSR Lightning Ascents. The binding system is easy to set and they’re easy to put on. These snowshoes are half the weight of other shoes and they have more grippers and crampons. The crampons or fins along the inside and outside edges of the shoes are great for not slipping on ice. It’s a breeze going up and down hills even when conditions are poor.”

Favorite Snowshoe Trail:

“No doubt about it, Las Conchas in the Jemez Mountains heads my list. This trail takes you through a beautiful canyon with rosy colored rock walls. When snow clings to the walls, the view takes on a three-dimensional look. The trail is winding, follows a stream and there are some sturdy bridges to cross. At the end of the canyon, there are places to sit and have lunch under a bright blue sky. Las Conchas is an in and out trail of 1.8 miles each way.”

Directions to Las Conchas Trail 137: From Albuquerque, take the Bernalillo/Placitas exit off Interstate 25 and go west to San Isidro. At San Ysidro, drive north on Highway 4 to the junction at Highway 126. Continue north on 126 passing several national forests.

larryLARRY MOUNGER
Department Chair Transportation/Trades (Retired)
Central New Mexico Community College

On snowshoes:

“I wear Northern Lites snowshoes and have been for the past several years.  They’re lightweight making it easy to get around.  Other snowshoes are much too heavy for me.  The Northern Lites have a standard strap system with stretch rubber.  I love the bright orange straps and I’m always able to find mine in a jumble of snowshoes.  These lightweight shoes are also good for backcountry–off the beaten path trails and racing.”

Favorite Snowshoe Trail:

“You can usually find snow on the Burn Trail in the Jemez Mountains, an area loaded with Ponderosa Pines.  This region is prone to forest fires and several fires have burned up to the highway.  Burn Trail connects to a mixture of flat areas and some gentle rolling hills in about 0.8 miles.  Once you reach the open meadows, along the East Fork Ridge trail, the views are awesome.  Redondo Peak stands out like a huge centerpiece against a blue sky.  The peak is sacred to various Pueblo people and it’s the second highest summit in the Jemez Mountains, which are in the Santa Fe National Forest.”

Directions to Burn Trail: From San Ysidro, N.M., go north on NM-4 to the La Cueva junction (NM 126).  Continue on NM 4, east, for 9 miles.  Burn Trail is on the left/ north side of NM 4 and across from a large plowed parking area used for access to Los Griegos Ski Touring area.

CINDY McCONNELLcindy
Outdoor Recreation Leader for the City of Albuquerque
Department of Senior Affairs

On snowshoes:

“Atlas Snow-Shoe Co. is my brand of snowshoes and I’ve used these shoes since 2008.  I’ve tried others but the Atlas shoes seem to work best for me.  I like the way the shoes fit with my boots.  The strap at the back of the shoe stays in place so there’s no adjusting each time I put them on.  I’ve had occasional breaks with my snowshoes over the years, but Atlas usually gives me the names of local people who can repair the problems.”

Favorite Snowshoe Trail:

“You’ll find my favorite trail in the Pecos, a protected wilderness area within the Santa Fe National Forest and the Carson National Forest.   I call this walk my “top of the world” trail.  Heading north on Jack’s Creek Road, follow an old road that’s not used anymore and snowshoe through meadows and aspen groves.  You’ll begin to climb and it’s approximately six miles one way.  It’s up and up the whole way but worth the climb.  At the top, you’ll have 360 degree views and you’ll have a good shot at the Pecos Baldy, a 12,000-foot mountain.”

Directions to my “top of the world” trail:  Take I-25 north to the Pecos/Glorieta exit.  Go east to the town of Pecos (six miles).  At the first stop sign, go left and take a county road through the canyon.  It’s 20 miles to the parking area.  From the parking area, it’s three-quarters of a mile to Jack’s Creek Road.

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