Whitewash Trail

Because the Sandia Mountains are practically in the backyard of Albuquerque, we have done numerous hikes there in the years we have been here. Since it isn’t a big mountain range, you would think that we would know most of the trails by now. But yesterday our friends, Ken and Sue, introduced us to an interesting trail, labeled on some maps as the Whitewash Trail, but not appearing at all on other maps.

The hike required a shuttle, parking one car at the Embudido Trailhead in the foothills on the east side of Albuquerque. Then driving east of town through Tijeras Canyon we started the hike on the Three Gun Springs (Tres Pistoles) Trail. We have done that trail a number of times in various combinations, as it connects with a couple of other trails.

Map of hike on Three Gun Springs and Whitewash Trails.
Map of hike on Three Gun Springs and Whitewash Trails.

It’s a steep ascent for 3 miles up to Oso Pass, which is about a mile below South Sandia Peak on the Crest Trail. This is where we left familiar trails and took an unmarked trail heading west along a ridge that would eventually descend the mountain and get us back to the foothills. We could now see the advantage of hiking this Whitewash Trail in the Sandias that we hadn’t been on before. It had very distinctive views of the city, as well as views of the Crest towards the north and the south from different perspectives.

At Oso Pass, looking up at the Crest under the clouds somewhere.
At Oso Pass, looking up at the Crest under the clouds somewhere.

South Sandia Peak shrouded in clouds behind us viewed from Whitewash Trail.
South Sandia Peak shrouded in clouds behind us viewed from Whitewash Trail.

Looking at north end of Sandias from Whitewash Trail.
Looking at north end of Sandias from Whitewash Trail.

At lower elevations on the ridge when the trail was still obvious.
At lower elevations on the ridge when the trail was still obvious.

The fact that there are no trail signs for this trail wasn’t a problem in the beginning. It was easy to follow the trail along the ridge at the higher elevations. But once we got out to the more open areas and could actually see where our car was parked in the foothills below, that’s where the problems began. Somewhere along the way we got off trail and found ourselves scrambling over steep, rocky terrain, trying to make our way downhill without slipping and falling into a cactus or other obstacle.
A view down into the city which couldn't be reached before scrambling over a lot of rough terrain.
A view down into the city which couldn’t be reached before scrambling over a lot of rough terrain.

It looks like an easy way down into the city but it was in the wrong direction.
It looks like an easy way down into the city but it was in the wrong direction.

Looking to the south before ascending into the foothills.
Looking to the south before ascending into the foothills.

The parking lot is to the right of the water tank but no direct route to get there.
The parking lot is to the right of the water tank but no direct route to get there.

It was a relief to finally reach level terrain in the foothills, but, unfortunately, we had gotten so far off course that we were not in the section of the foothills where our car was parked. It was another mile or so trudging through the desert before we rounded a hill and could see once again the parking lot that was our goal. I was quite exhausted after trekking 9 miles, a third of it a very steep ascent and a third of it trying to scramble back down the mountain. But, as is always the case, it was an enjoyable day spent doing our favorite outdoor activity.

An interesting canyon, but a final obstacle to scramble around before reaching the bottom--and then another mile across the desert.
An interesting canyon, but a final obstacle to scramble around before reaching the bottom–and then another mile across the desert.

I created an interactive map from the GPS track of our hike. If you click on the link for the map it allows you to zoom in and out and move around to get a better idea of where we were.
A map of the hike

Author: bjregan

Enjoying retirement activities. Main goals for retirement are to stay spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

One thought on “Whitewash Trail”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s