Our Pino Trail adventure began at the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. It was a perfect late September morning. My daughter Grace and I hiked and ran up 3.5 miles to just over 8,400′ and then turned around and ran much of the way down.
We parked just east and south of the Ranger Station and immediately got on the trail. This entrance to the Cibola National Forest is at about .75 miles from the parking lot.
The Pino Trail is 4.7 miles from the trailhead at the parking lot to Crest Trail 130 where it ends. Because it was a Wednesday, we only planned to do 7 miles instead of the full 9.4 mile up and back.
With the exceptionally good monsoon season that we have had in Albuquerque, I have never seen it look so lush along the trail. Heavy rain the night before seemed to have made the trail even better.
A view to the north of another part of the Sandia Mountains with the vibrant and green forest. The Pino Trail is one of the four primary trails that go to the crest, the others being the La Luz Trail, the Embudito Trail and the Embudo Trail.
The Pino Trail has two springs that cross the trail, both of which are quite high up. I don’t know the exact altitude but I believe that the second one was close to 8,000′
The view at our Pino Trail turnaround at 3.5 miles was absolutely superb. Below is sprawling Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Valley, the West Mesa with the Albuquerque Volcanoes, and about 60 miles to the west, 10,000′ Mt. Taylor. According to the My Altitude app, we were at just over 8,400′.