Paul Grosvenor's Guide to the Albuquerque Foothills

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NEW TO RUNNING IN ALBUQUERQUE OR HAVE NEVER VENTURED OFF THE ROADS TO TRAIN, I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE FOOTHILLS TRAIL SYSTEM.

THE TRAILS RUN NORTH AND SOUTH ALONG THE FOOT OF THE SANDIA MOUNTAINS ON THE EASTERN EDGE OF THE CITY. THEY ARE DIVIDED INTO TWO AREAS , ONE SOUTH OF MENAUL AND THE OTHER NORTH OF MONTGOMERY. THE SOUTHERN AREA, BEGINNING AT THE END OF MENAUL BLVD. AND HEADING SOUTH ALL THE WAY TO I-25 IN TIJERAS CANYON. THIS SECTION CAN BE ACCESSED BY MENAUL BLVD., WHERE THERE IS A PARKING LOT AND ALSO SOME PICNIC AREAS. THERE IS ALSO A PARKING LOT AT THE END OF INDIAN SCHOOL RD. BOTH OF THESE LOTS GIVE YOU ACCESS TO EMBUDO CANYON. FROM THERE YOU CAN RUN EAST FOR ABOUT A MILE AND A HALF UNTIL YOU COME TO THE SANDIA WILDERNESS AREA. THEN HEAD SOUTH ACROSS THE DAM ALONG ONE OF SEVERAL DIFFERENT TRAILS. THERE IS A NEW SECTION ALONG THIS AREA THAT, WAS CONSTRUCTED THROUGH A JOINT EFFORT OF OPEN SPACE AND THE NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE , THAT IS GREAT TO RUN. IT ROLLS ALONG WINDING ITS WAY UP AND OVER THE NEXT SADDLE AND DOWN WHAT USED TO BE A TREACHEROUS SECTION OF TRAIL. THEY HAVE ALSO BUILT THREE FOOT BRIDGES (NOT THAT THERE'S ANY WATER UNDER THEM) WHICH FOR ME ARE A REAL TREAT TO RUN OVER (SIMPLE MINDS, SIMPLE PLEASURES.) FROM THIS POINT THERE ARE TWO MAIN TRAILS STILL HEADING SOUTH WITH SEVERAL OTHER ROUTES CONNECTING THEM. I TOOK A FRIEND OUT LAST SATURDAY FOR A LONG RUN ALONG THIS SECTION . WE JUST KEPT TAKING DIFFERENT TRAILS AT EVERY INTERSECTION AND HE'D ASK ME IF I KNEW WHERE I WAS GOING AND I WOULD SAY "YES, BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW WERE GOING TO GET THERE". THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST PARTS ABOUT TRAIL RUNNING .YOU JUST TAKE OFF ,RUN AND HAVE FUN.

NOW THE NORTHERN SECTION OF THE TRAIL SYSTEM . IT BEGINS AT THE EMBUDITU TRAILHEAD PARKING LOT. TO GET THERE DRIVE EAST ON MONTGOMERY BLVD. PAST TRAMWAY TO GLENWOOD HILLS STREET, TURN LEFT AND GO ABOUT A HALF A MILE UNTIL YOU COME TO TRAILHEAD ROAD, THEN TURN RIGHT. THERE IS A MAP AT THE TRAILHEAD AND FROM HERE YOU CAN HEAD NORTH ALL THE WAY TO THE LA LUZ TRAIL. YOU CAN ALSO ACCESS THESE TRAILS FROM THE ELENA GALLEGOS PICNIC AREA ($1 WEEKDAYS, $2 WEEKENDS) OR THE TRAM ($1 PER YEAR) OR GO TO THE LALAUZ TRAILHEAD ONE MILE NORTH OF THE TRAMWAY TURN OFF. THERE ARE TWO MAIN TRAILS ALONG THIS AREA, #365 WHICH IS RELATIVELY EASY (FOR TRAIL RUNNING) AND #341 WHICH HAS SOME PRETTY STEEP SECTIONS. THERE ARE ALSO MANY OTHER TRAILS IN THIS AREA, IT JUST TAKES SOME EXPLORING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THEY GO.

I HAVE BEEN RUNNING THIS AREA AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK FOR THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF AND ONE THING THAT I'VE NOTICED IS IT'S NEVER THE SAME.. AFTER SLOGGING AROUND THE UNM NORTH GOLF COURSE FOR FIFTEEN YEARS, THIS IS THE GREATEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO MY RUNNING. MY SATURDAY TRAINING PARTNER TERRY BISBEE AND I USED TO RUN FROM TRAMWAY AND INDIAN SCHOOL ROAD NORTH ON THE BIKE PATH TO PASEO DEL NORTE AND BACK EVERY WEEKEND AND EVEN THOUGH WE WOULD HAMMER ON EACH OTHER OUR ENTHUSIASM FOR THESE RUNS WAS DWINDLING. THEN ONE DAY WE DECIDED TO TURN UP THE ELENA GALLEGOS ROAD AND RUN THE TRAILS BACK TO TERRY'S HOUSE, MAN WHAT A DIFFERENCE. WE WERE SAVED!

ABOUT THIS SAME TIME I GOT A PHONE CALL FROM STEVE MAHIEU A GUY I HAD MET A FEW YEARS EARLIER .STEVE WAS KIND OF A LEGEND AROUND HERE, HE HAD WON THE LEADVILLE TRAIL 100 MILE RACE ,SOMETHING MANY MEMBERS OF OUR RUNNING CLUB(INCLUDING ME) HAD ATTEMPTED OR FINISHED .STEVE WANTED ME TO DO SOME WORK FOR HIM AT HIS HOUSE AND WHILE I WAS THERE WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT RUNNING AND TRAINING. HE TOLD ME THAT WE OUGHT TO GO RUNNING SOMETIME. I THOUGHT, WHY WOULD SOMEBODY SO GOOD WANT TO RUN WITH ME. WELL, WE WENT RUNNING ON THESE TRAILS THE NEXT WEEKEND. I RAN AS HARD AS I COULD THAT DAY NOT WANTING TO SLOW STEVE DOWN, AND WHAT I FOUND OUT WAS THAT HE DIDN'T CARE IF I SLOWED HIM DOWN OR NOT. WE'D BE RUNNING ALONG AT FULL SPEED AND HE'D GO "DID YOU SEE THAT" AND WE WOULD STOP AND LOOK AT A SPIDER WEB REFLECTING IN THE SUN OR STOP TO LISTEN TO THE COYOTES YIP AND HOWL OR FOLLOW THEM AROUND TO SEE WHAT ALL THE NOISE WAS ABOUT. EARLIER THIS YEAR STEVE AND I WERE TIRED OF OUR NORMAL LOOP AND DECIDED TO TRY A SECTION WE HADN'T RUN IN A WHILE. TWO HUNDRED YARDS DOWN THIS TRAIL WE CAME AROUND A CORNER AND THERE WERE TWO DEER ABOUT TWENTY FEET AWAY WE LOOKED AT THEM ,THEY LOOKED AT US, IT WAS GREAT. THIS IS OUR ZOO WITH NO FENCE (OR IS IT THEIR ZOO ?) EVERYDAY THERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

NOW I RUN THE TRAILS WITH STEVE EVERY THURSDAY AND WITH TERRY EVERY SATURDAY AND SOMETIMES WE WILL ALL RUN TOGETHER. I AM RUNNING BETTER THAN EVER AND AM ENJOYING EVERY MILE OF IT (OK, MAYBE NOT THE UPHILLS BUT WE ALTERNATE SO WHAT'S UPHILL ONE DAY IS DOWN THE NEXT)

I HOPE THIS WILL GIVE YOU SOME INSIGHT ON RUNNING THE FOOTHILLS TRAIL SYSTEM AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO COME OUT AND TRY IT SOMETIME. HAPPY TRAILS! (YOU NEW THAT ONE WAS COMING)