la luz is a great hike but it is a climb and a challenge and will take time from the trailhead below. however, if you are on the top via tram, you can take a bit of the top of the trail. when you get off tram, head north past the restaurant deck toward the trails leading to the Sandia Crest House. Just before you enter the forested trail (about 100 yards is all we're talking about), you'll see the La Luz trail sign heading down on your left. For the next 1+ mile the trail is fairly narrow, fairly level, fairly safe, fairly sunny, just below the crest on the city side. You'll reach a Y. There will be signs. You want to take the spur on the right fork to the Crest House. The next .6 miles is a tough climb on switchbacks but gets you to the Crest House for views, a small cafe, gift store and ranger desk. You can take the trail on top south back to the tram, about 2 miles I'd say. Some of the trails get a little confusing to me up there, so you might want to get advice from the ranger. this might help: http://www.explorenm.com/hikes/CrestTram/
I've done this loop, in this direction, with very small children.
oh, and there are absolutely no beggars and bums in the area at all. just recreation and nature lovers.
fabulous news! Thanks
Here is description of loop in opposite direction starting from Crest House:
and a map that might help:
I should add that on top of tram, there is a small building with bathrooms, etc. and a ranger desk that is usually staffed in the summer. There may be maps and other info available there.
The Crest Spur Trail is a climb. Guess it may be closer to .7 mile. It also includes a "stairs" (with a rail) that can be taxing. Remind yourself to look back at points for views. And the return on top is less than 2 miles, unless you include the spur to the Kiwanis Cabin, also show on the map.
Either direction of loop is good. I think you're less likely to be confused on trails on top going south on those first to Crest House. (I'm usually anxious to be on the La Luz first, just because it's a bit less used.) Of course, the opposite direction means you get to go down the Crest Spur instead of up. (Sounds easier, but after a while it's harder on the quads.) As the link in the prior post says, the trails on top split and join up at several spots. Many of these trails on top are also used for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, so you may see some blue diamonds in the trees. Look for the signs. They are not huge, but also not hard to miss. More like posts, with direction arrow, a word or two, and distance.
Always nice to end hike at restaurant with microbrew and green chile cheeseburger.Edited: 12:20 pm, May 28, 2012
darn, I wanted to add that, especially on the trail along the top, you are going to have to watch your footing over rocks, which can also be slippery. You'll notice the shiney, well-worn appearance of the rocks. If it rained, even more so. Wear sensible shoes. In other parts the trail may be loose gravel; that can cause you to slip going downhill. So again watch your footing. Also can be considerably cooler up there. An additional layer is advisable, even in summer. But you really don't need long pants. Shorts will be great. Apply sunscreen and carry water, at the very least. These trails are popular enough that you will bump into other people along the way, but it still gives you a wonderful, easy wilderness experience.
And remove rings. My hands swell up on hikes up there.Edited: 12:30 pm, May 28, 2012
Where I talked about being less confused about the trails on top if you start with the trail through the forest from the tram to the Crest House...I may have added to the confusion...the direction from the tram to the Crest House is north, not south. The only real confusion about going the other direction on top is where to start. You can either dip down into the trees right away or go along the rocky crest ledge for a while. I may have left an impression that the trail up there was all rock. It's not, just in spots. Otherwise a nice forest trail. If you are coming from the tram on top, you will find a large sign and map at the Kiwanis meadow that will help. The gravel will probably appear more on the spur trail. The La Luz leg has nice views returning to tram. You will see the tram in the distance. It will seem a long way off, but all of a sudden you are there. Because it is slightly less used, and in the open sun, vegetation can be more overgrown...but the trail is always clear.
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