Friday, May 10, 2013

A Hike in the Manzanita Mountains

With a threat of rain over the Sandia Mountains, we headed a few miles South today to hike in the Manzanita Mountains, part of the Cibola National Forest. We picked up an excellent trail map from the Ranger Station on Hwy 337 and continued down that highway to the Otero Canyon trail head.

We ended up hiking just under 10 miles in somewhat of a figure eight configuration following these trails: Blue Ribbon, FS Rd 106, Drop In, then took FS Rd 106 back to the Blue Ribbon intersection with G Nasty, finishing up down Otero Canyon. 

This was a nice combination of fairly gentle uphills and downhills among juniper and pinion pine, ridge top meadows, openings to big views, and nicely flowing canyon back to the truck. And, it was at about 7,000 ft. elevation...a nice change from the 8,000 - 10,000 ft we've been hiking in the Sandias.

One important note: mountain bikers love these trails! We felt they were too rocky for a fun mountain bike experience. Hiking on a weekday we did not see another soul on the trails...I bet there would be a lot of bikers on the weekends.

View up Otero Canyon from the trail head. Note lots of blue sky...
As we headed up Blue Ribbon trail the views opened up to the many mountains
surrounding this area.
This was a really big surprise...we've seen very few spring flowers this high up.
One small example of how rocky this trail can be, other areas were much worse.
Easy for hiking, not so much fun for mountain biking.
On FS Rd 106 we traversed the top of a hill that had been mostly cleared,
probably for fire fighting. It had a nice open feeling.
The clouds are building up!
The Drop In trail took us back into the juniper and pinion forest
and was also some of the nicest mountain biking section we hiked today.
From the G Nasty trail we could see the Sandia Mountains getting some rain.
A few minutes later we could see the storm had moved off the Sandias
and was probably headed our way.
Heading down Otero Canyon Ponderosa Pine was added to the mix.
This odd shelf of rock continued for several hundred yards along the edge of Otero Canyon.
It's getting pretty dark as we approach the end of the hike.
We actually got hailed on during the last quarter mile!

We really enjoyed the variety on this hike and the fact that the forested parts were fairly open, we didn't feel closed in like some forests can feel. There are many more miles of trails in these mountains for future exploration. We'd definitely hike here again on a weekday.


  1. Beautiful hike! I love when you have the trail to yourself so you have quiet. You have the same pictures we do! Your storm brewed up just like ours. Fun times!

  2. And I love those storm-over-mountain dark and ominous.
    Box Canyon Mark