Hike Page

Montosa Canyon Hike
In Los Lunas Region

Map File Source: DeLorme

map Hike Key: H10477
Last Updated: 12/15/2020 12:00am
Last Updated By: Marilyn Warrant
Hike Class: C (Challenging)
Hike Distance: 5.6 mi
Minimum Elevation: 6041 ft
Elevation Change: 427 ft
Total Uphill: 743 ft
Total Downhill: 743 ft
Avg. Grade: 6 %
Route Type: CW Loop
On Trail: No
Paved or Gravel Roads: No
GPS Advised: Yes
Drive Distance Round Trip: 126 mi
Drive Time One-Way: 1:30
Hiking Seasons: Spring and Fall
New Mexico Game Unit: 18
Hike Status: Published


Seldom seen views from the mesa; an occasional plant fossil; arroyo walks.


Bring hiking poles for the steep sections. Uphill after lunch.

Trailhead Directions

I-25 south to EXIT 195. Go through Belen on Business 25, under an overpass and over the RR tracks. At Reinken (INT 309), go left on SR 309 heading toward the mountains. Cross the Rio Grande, then go southeast on [SR 47], then east on [US 60]. Take a very sharp right-hand TURN off 60. (Look for a more gently-right turn just before it.) Go through the GATE-RD then close it. There are several cattle guards, but no other gates on the access road (except one off to your right to the Sevietta Wildlife Refuge, which is closed to entry). Drive on the dirt road about 2 mi to PARK (0.0 mi). One good place is a small arroyo.

Actual Hike

Walk south until you find a place to go UNDER1 (0.2 mi) the fence and follow small arroyos and cow paths around the north side of the bluff. When you start going south, stay to the right of the fence (even though places where the fence is down may tempt you to cross over), because there’s a GATE in a fence perpendicular to this one that you can get to from the right side but not the left. Go through the GATE (1.4 mi) and continue walking south. There are several ways to get up onto the mesa from here. Try to find the old 2-track starting at OLD RD1 (1.55 mi) that goes up onto the mesa to OLD RD2 (1.9 mi). Failing that, generally follow the track shown and you’ll get there. Go generally southeast on the mesa to UNDER2 (2.6 mi) for another fence to go under. Continue southeast starting down from the mesa to the LUNCH (3.0 mi) spot, which has views all around. Then go the rest of the way off the mesa to Montosa Canyon at BIG ARROYO (3.1 mi). Walk west in the arroyo. The fence you last went under goes along the section line, and you encounter it again at UNDER3 (3.4 mi). Leave the arroyo at OUT (4.4 mi), and go northwest up the drainage. At STRAIGHT (4.6 mi) avoid going to the left. (Generally keep to the right side of the arroyo to return to the mesa.) When you reach the west edge of the mesa, go north and start heading down. Find a small arroyo at LTL ARROYO (5.35 mi), and continue down to the road. Walk a short distance north to the van.


Wonderful views from the mesa and interesting rocks in the canyon. Once we found a plant fossil on the mesa. The hike goes up onto and off of the mesa twice (that’s why the elevation gain and the total uphill differ so much). There are some steep places (more than 20% grade) with rocks, so bring your hiking sticks and wear boots with good soles.

The preferred drive is through Belen. It’s more attractive than the trashed-out 60, and there’s a MacDonald’s in Belen for before- and/or after-hike snacks at waypoint McD. This hike is a good one for spring or fall days that are not too warm and when no precipitation is expected.


EXIT 195: N34 42.652, W106 47.411
INT 309: N34 39.764, W106 46.568
SR 47: N34 39.171, W106 44.174
US 60: N34 26.055, W106 31.929
TURN: N34 24.189, W106 30.486
GATE-RD: N34 24.192, W106 30.479

PARK: N34 22.737, W106 31.313
UNDER1: N34 22.656, W106 31.259
GATE: N34 22.527, W106 30.439
OLD RD1: N34 22.467, W106 30.430
OLD RD2: N34 22.317, W106 30.683
UNDER2: N34 22.025, W106 30.221
LUNCH: N34 21.886, W106 29.964
BIG ARROYO: N34 21.805, W106 29.962
UNDER3: N34 21.785, W106 30.212
OUT: N34 21.841, W106 30.962
STRAIGHT: N34 22.014, W106 31.098
LTL ARROYO: N34 22.429, W106 31.295

McD: N34 39.951, W106 46.503

Map Filename: MontosaCanyonMapRev_MW.jpg
Hike GPS File Name: MontosaCanyonWayTrackRev_MW.gpx
Hike GPS File: Click link to download hike waytrack file

Text Author: Marilyn Warrant
Map Author: Marilyn Warrant
Waypoints Author: Marilyn Warrant
Track Author: Marilyn Warrant
Maintainer: Marilyn Warrant
Editor: Howard Carr

Photos of This Hike
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