Sandia Ski Area

Sandia Ski Area Hike
In Sandia Mountain East Region

Map File Source: NG Topo

map Hike Key: H10253
Last Updated: 12/15/2020 12:00am
Last Updated By: Marilyn Warrant
Hike Class: D (Difficult)
Hike Distance: 5 mi
Minimum Elevation: 8619 ft
Elevation Change: 1669 ft
Total Uphill: 1773 ft
Total Downhill: 1773 ft
Avg. Grade: 13 %
Route Type: Loop
On Trail: No
Paved or Gravel Roads: Yes
GPS Advised: Yes
Drive Distance Round Trip: 58 mi
Drive Time One-Way: 0:45
Hiking Seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall
New Mexico Game Unit: 8
Hike Status: Published


Green grass, wildflowers, views to the west as we hike along ski trails.


Hiking poles recommended for the steep downhill return.

Trailhead Directions

From Albuquerque drive I-40 east to Tijeras exit 175 and stay left to NM 14 North toward Cedar Crest, then after about 6 miles on NM14, turn left onto SR536 toward Sandia Crest. After about 7 miles on SR536 you will reach the Sandia Peak Ski Area. Park your car in the wide area on the left (west) side of the highway just past the turn-in to the ski area. Do not park in the ski area parking lot; you will not want to return hours later and find your ride behind a locked gate.

Actual Hike

On the left or south side of PARK (0.0 mi), find the trail leading up thru the brush to the parking lot, cross this lot and then ascend the wooden stairs on the right (north) side of the ski lodge and buildings. Make your way across the wooden decks and stairs up to the service road at the ski lift base. Now go left (southeast) up the ski run which will turn southwest and begin your hike up the mountain along the southern boundary of the ski area. There is no defined trail to the top; just follow the ski runs up the mountain and use the bike trails as you like.

There are several switchback bicycle trails to follow, and when you tire of these back and forth switchbacks, pick the direct path and just go straight up. In July, 2008 we enjoyed the wildflowers and attendant butterflies in the open grassy ski-runs all the way up the mountain. If a hiker wants to pick a wildflower bouquet, remind them the Forest Service frowns on this and backs it up with a $100 fine. Remember the bicycles and safely avoid them when they come racing down the trails. When you reach the TOP (3.2 mi), there are outdoor tables and benches where you can take a break and enjoy the views all around. There are restrooms and a water fountain in the lower level of the restaurant as well as in the upper tram station. Return to the ski area base by just going down, as all ski-runs converge at the bottom near your car.


This hike is all up and all down, but offers cool mountain air and great views. During dry summers, this area is usually open when the surrounding trails are closed due to fire danger. During these times, you may call the Sandia Ranger District Office at 281-3304 (8 am – 4:30 pm) to inquire/confirm that this area is open for hiking.

This hike is just one of many possible ways to hike these ski-runs and if you have a favorite way to hike here, please send in a brief description and we can develop a collection of these ski-area hikes.


PARK: N 35 12.417, W 106 24.736 ELEV 8619
TOP: N 35 11.773, W 106 26.061 ELEV 10288

Map Filename: SandiaSkiAreaHike_Image_ks2.jpg
Hike GPS File Name: SandiaSkiAreaHikeWayTrack_ks.gpx
Hike GPS File: Click link to download hike waytrack file

Text Author: Ken Smith
Map Author: Ken Smith
Waypoints Author: Ken Smith
Track Author: Ken Smith
Maintainer: Ken Smith
Editor: Marilyn Warrant