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Tunnel, Otero, West Figure 8

Consensus:    (details)
 4.4 from 9 votes
  Difficult from 3 votes
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Rank: #1 in Albuquerque
#3 in New Mexico
#300 Overall
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“A nice figure 8 ride with lots of fun singletrack and plenty of ledges and baby heads.”
Lee Brinckerhoff on Apr 1, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
9.2 Miles 1,206’ Ascent 7,349’ High 5.0% Avg Grade
100% Singletrack -1,219’ Descent 6,578’ Low 11.2% Max Grade
Restrictions
May be closed during summer months for fire danger, check with the ranger station for details.
Overview
A sweet singletrack ride in a piƱon forest, following ridges and canyons and contouring along hillsides. All the trails used on this ride offer their own challenges in the form of grinding climbs, ledges, baby heads, tight spots between trees and of course flowing banked corners and jumps.

This trail system can be busy on a nice weekend and it can be accessed by several different parking areas so what you see in the lot might not be representative of how many people will be out.
Need To Know
This ride butts up against the military withdrawal area of Kirtland Air Force Base. Be careful not to cross onto their land, it is posted poorly, almost as if they want you to make a mistake and end up in their domain.
Description
Start up the Tunnel Canyon Trail, which climbs gradually to start, then leads to some steeper bits and a ledge here or there. Make a turn through the bottom of the canyon and start to climb the other side more steeply. Once you make it through the steep grunt, things mellow out for the most part and you'll climb gradually up to the junction with the West Ridge Trail.

Turn right onto the West Ridge Trail and immediately start climbing again on loose terrain with nice, easy rounded ledges. It's more important to hold the line than to be particularly good since if you are in the right place the traction is decent; however if you drift into the baby "fists" things can get ugly real quick.

At the top of the climb there is a trail junction on the right, take note, this is where you willou'll turn later. Once through the initial climb you are rewarded with fast smooth trail snaking through the trees and the occasional rock gardens, though nothing you can't roll through. Next up is a winding baby head climb finished with some sharp bedded rock layers and ledges. More fast winding trail awaits above. Then a final steep loose climb with a couple of stair steps at the top finishes off the climbing on this section.

On the next fast twisting section, keep your eyes peeled for the KAFB boundary and the HIDDEN sign, it is tucked in behind a tree, though there is some flagging on trees in the area and a couple of spots where rocks have been set on either side of the trail before you get there.

Just before the KAFB boundary make a sharp left and enjoy the flowing downhill through the trees. There is almost no need to pedal through this section and there are numerous rocks to jump off or avoid, banked turns and even a log to ride. The trail eventually drops down into Otero Canyon.

Take a left on the Otero Canyon Trail and head downhill. This is one of the best trails in the Albuquerque area and offers a little of everything. The highlights are the 2 walls that you get to jump off of and the sweet banked turns down at the bottom. There are also rock gardens and jumps along the way as you dip into and out of and cross back and forth through the canyon. You willou'll pass the Blue Ribbon Trail on your right and dip through the canyon from right to left and there will be a trail junction on the left, this is the tail end of the Tunnel Canyon Trail.

Make a hard left and climb back up to the West Ridge Trail. The climb starts with a difficult hairpin with angled steps to make things more difficult. Steps and ledges is the name of the game on this climb. Some of the steps are quite large including one in the middle of the climb and one just before you reach the West Ridge. It is a fun exercise in riding steps and great for learning or improving.

Now turn left and make the initial climb on the West Ridge Trail again, for some reason I typically do better the second time up. At the top of the climb you willou'll make a very sharp turn to the right onto the Birdhouse Ridge Trail. This trail was cut in 2011 by FOO and the FS and is a great addition. It is mostly flat and downhill all the way back to the car from here.

You willou'll quickly come to a small burnt out area that offers a great view of the back side of the Sandia Mountains. From here things start to drop, lots of twists and turns and a few sections with rock ledges but nothing too technical. Eventually you really start to go down on an open hillside and have a couple of hairpins then a straight section with some more rocky bits followed by 2 more hairpins. Then the trail enters the trees again for the last twisting bit before you pop out onto the Tunnel Canyon Trail less than 100 yards from your car.
History & Background
The Otero Canyon area at one point provided miles and miles of perfect singletrack in a seemingly remote setting. That all changed around 2004, a few years after the September 11th attacks. Suddenly Kirtland did not want anyone on their land. Prior to this it had been OK to ride in the withdrawal zone and there was something like 50 miles of trail to ride.

FOO (originally Friends Of Otero, I believe) was formed in response to this issue. It took several years to get things sorted out and build trail to work around the closure. In the end this is still a great place to ride and there is still hope that one day the rest of the trails will be reopened.
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COMMENTS
OTHER RIDES NEAR HERE
4.0 (1)
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3.7 (7)
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PHOTOS of Tunnel, Otero, West Figure 8
 3.0 from 2 votes
Nice new trails thanks to FOO and the FS. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.7 from 3 votes
View of the Sandias and Cedro peak as you leave the burn scar on top. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.3 from 3 votes
View of the backside of the Sandia Mountains (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Descending the last bit of Blue Ribbon to the Otero Canyon junction. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Birdhouse Ridge on the left and West Ridge on the right. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Un-natural ledge drop, this one can be difficult to see the first time y... (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Big rock steps on the climb from Otero Canyon back up to the West Ridge. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Sweet single track running down Otero Canyon. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Tight spot between rocks. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Tunnel Canyon Trail climbing along the hillside. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
The rocky start to the West Ridge Trail from the junction with the Tunne... (Tijeras village, NM)
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Natural ledge drop in the bottom of the canyon, you could ride around it... (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
The last sandy stair steps of the West Ridge climbing. As you can see pl... (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Flowing single track near the bottom of Otero Canyon. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Can you see the KAFB Warning/Do Not Enter Sign?.....It's right there, be... (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Final rock step before the junction with the West Ridge Trail. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Narrow log ride anyone? (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Burnt out area at the top of the Birdhouse Ridge Trail. (Tijeras village, NM)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Trail junction between the West Ridge and Otero Canyon Trails. (Tijeras village, NM)
 1.5 from 2 votes
A closer view of the sign that is hidden in the trees. I actually have m... (Tijeras village, NM)
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