The portion of the Sandia Ranger District (Cibola National Forest) that is south of Tijeras in the Manzanita Mountains is a favorite destination of mountain bikers, motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle users. We don’t fall into any of those categories. As simple hikers, just looking for a few hours of peace and quiet surrounded by nature’s beauty, we have learned to peacefully coexist with men and machines. Mostly, this is accomplished by going on these trails in the middle of the week, rather than on a weekend or holiday. The appeal to us of this area is that it is close to home, allowing us to do some hiking when we have only a limited amount of time.
That was the case yesterday, when we waited until after lunch to set out. As cold as the weather has been lately, we wanted to give the temperatures a chance to warm up and, also, to see that the winds weren’t going to kick in again. It turned out to be perfect hiking weather, a bit on the chilly side at the beginning, but lots of sun to warm us up as we walked.
We had a trail map with us and used that in combination with a hike description of the Coyote Trail in our “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles” book. The map in the book and the trail map were very hard to reconcile. If we would have done the whole Coyote Trail loop it would have been 7 miles and we knew we didn’t have enough time to do that. The hike described in the book was a 2.4-mile loop but we couldn’t find some of the “unmarked” trails that were described. We followed part of the hike description after backtracking several times. But then we ended up taking a longer way back, giving us just about the right total distance and also some nice views. The only disadvantage was the last mile or so that had to be walked on the rough, rocky road designed for all-terrain vehicles, not hikers.