North Foothills, Elena Gallegos Main Loop

Consensus:    (details)
  3.8 from 24 votes
blue  Intermediate from 9 votes
Rank: #1 in the Sandia Mountains Wilderness Area area
#4 in NM, #174 Overall
Views: 7,432. Last 30 days: 188
Condition Details | Update
Featured Ride in the area near Sandia Heights,
“The main loop in the North Foothills area with options to lengthen or shorten the ride.”
Lee Brinckerhoff on Mar 12, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
9.715.6 milesKilometers 1,019’311 m Ascent 6,732’2,052 m High 4% Avg Grade (2°)
95% Singletrack -1,020’-311 m Descent 6,189’1,886 m Low 13% Max Grade (8°)
Please be courteous of other trail users and do not cross the Wilderness Boundary, it is clearly signed and fenced.
2:12 average time for 11.0 miles. Details

This is a great in-town ride in the foothills of the Sandia crest. Mostly smooth singletrack with a few rock gardens and ledge sections thrown in for good measure. The area of the ride closer to the parking area is generally smoother while the further half of the loop is more technical.
Need To Know
There are several different trailheads that this loop can be accessed from including the High Desert Trailhead and the Elena Gallegos Trailhead.

Not many of the descents on these trails have received armor yet and as such get a bit rough. Also, when the weather is nice out and on weekends, you can expect many other users, both bikes and hikers, and possibly horses as well.
Head north out of the parking lot and take the obvious trail. Before long, you'll come to your first Wilderness sign that forces you left. From here, the trail skirts the edge of the High Desert development.

Eventually the trail heads towards the Sandia Crest, and at this point you'll want to stay on the main trail and not head left - the goal is to ride the trails as far east as possible to follow the Wilderness boundary.

After a somewhat rocky section, nothing very big, you will come to a major trail junction where the 365 trail comes in from the left and 305 continues straight. Stay straight, following 305 towards the mountains. Fast, smooth single track follows, sweeping into and out of shallow ravines and over the ridges that separate them.

You'll come to a gravel road that is used to access some land owned by a local school. Go straight across this road. Very quickly, you'll need to make a sharp right turn at the bottom of a short downhill onto 305a.

Once you've made this turn, it's a long gradual grind up to the Pino Trailhead into the Sandia Wilderness using trails 305a, 342 and finally 341. You won't be on any one trail for more than a half mile before the next trail junction.

Upon reaching the Wilderness boundary, continue left on 341 along the fence line. Here, you'll face the first real technical challenge of the ride, a series of large embedded rocks/boulders. The trail surface then smooths out again for a few more short descents and climbs to another fork. Go right at the fork onto trail 230.

Once through the fork, you'll start up another gradual climb. It's short, but it's peppered with ledges and rocks that you need to weave between or ride over.

Once you reach the top of this climb, the trail takes two short steep drops into an arroyo and a big boulder hop, followed by a steep built up rock ramp to get back out. A little bit of cruising later you'll reach another Wilderness Trailhead and the trail turns left.

Now you'll lose all of the elevation you gained in the first half of the ride. A very rocky downhill follows. You can let it rip, but beware, there are a couple of tight turns that it would be terrible to miss. The downhill run finishes with a tight lefthand turn and a sign post for trail 365, which you'll follow back to your car. (Note: If you want extra distance head right to the H2O tower).

This next section consists of smooth sweeping singletrack with banked corners, mixed with rock gardens and some occasional loose gravel. When you come to an obvious trail junction with a post, head right. From this point, the trail smoothes back out and it's mostly ripping fun. The only real challenge is staying on the trail if you get going too fast - there are penalties for going off-trail in the form of cholla mostly but also the occasional prickly pear.

Follow the main trail, trail 365, through several intersections, eventually crossing Sims Park road (paved access to the Elena Gallegos Trailhead). There is one last junction that can be confusing and you want to stay right on trail 365. The trail will again cross the gravel access road and return you to the T-intersection that you passed at the beginning of the ride, and you can cruise back to your car from here.
Land Manager: City of Albuquerque Open Space
Local Club: AMBA
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PHOTOS of North Foothills, Elena Gallegos Main Loop
  4.0 from 2 votes
Railing a corner, notice the "cactus consequence". (Sandia Heights, NM)
  3.3 from 3 votes
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  2.7 from 3 votes
Lance riding smooth singletrack on the lower portion of the loop (Sandia Heights, NM)
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Beautiful views along this trail! (Sandia Heights, NM)
  2.5 from 2 votes
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The other Wilderness trailhead (Sandia Heights, NM)
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Trail 305A (Sandia Heights, NM)
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  2.0 from 3 votes
Dried cactus branches working as a barrier. (Sandia Heights, NM)
  2.0 from 3 votes
The trail split, behind you is south on Foothills Trail 365, while left ... (Sandia Heights, NM)