Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Went on a group hike today, all the way down to the southern end of the Manzano Mountains to hike the Pine Shadow Trail (#170A), and it took almost two hours just to get to the trail head! The Pine Shadow Trail Head is the southern entry/exit point of the Manzano Mountains and leads up towards Manzano Peak and the Crest Trail (#170), although we did not venture that far today. Hey… we’re seniors!! 😉

There are two ways to get to the trail head: East on I-40 and south from Tijeras, or south on I-25 and southeast from Belen. We opted for the latter. If you do the same, from the time you exit I-25, it is 34 miles of asphalt (on NM 47 and US 60) before you reach the turnoff to Forest Service Road 422. Look for a brown sign indicating Red Canyon Campground and FR 422. From there, it is another 10 miles of gravel, washboard road to reach the trail head. FR 422 to the trail head is graded, well maintained, and only has a 2.5% grade, so low clearance vehicles should have no problem. Trail head is well marked, has ample parking, no parking fees, and a pit toilet. Elevation at the trail head is 7,289 feet.

The Pine Shadow Trail appears to be a maintained trail and is very easy to follow. We hiked about 2.9 miles up to a rocky area, took a break, then headed back down. At our turn-around point, burn scars from an old fire are still visible. Total climbing for our hike was 1,883 feet at an average grade of 10%. There is some minimal exposure as the trail winds its way up, but nothing I would call even remotely dangerous. Elevation at our turn-around point was 8,858 feet. Total round-trip hiking distance was 5.7 miles. Our total hiking time was 4.5 hours, including stops. Actual hiking time was 3.25 hours.

When you look at the map, you will see there are other hikes possible using the Pine Shadow Trail as your starting point, assuming you aren’t opposed to taking more than one vehicle and setting up a shuttle. The Pine Shadow Trail eventually becomes the Crest Trail, and once past the Manzano Peak, the Crest Trail intersects with a number of trails as you head north. I have never been up that far, but from two sources, I have heard that some of those trails farther up can be virtually impassable due to overgrowth because they don’t get a lot of use.

Click Here for the topo map with the trail route, then click on the individual icons for trail notes and pics. If the icon info comes up empty, try reloading the map.

Click the first pic to start the manual slide show: