Cedro Peak

View along trail 248
This easy hike is notable for being close enough to Albuquerque that you can decide at the last minute to go hike it. It also is easy enough to take young hikers. The network of trails gives you many options of places to go, and it would be hard to get truly lost here. It is a popular mountain biking area as well.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: Cibola National Forest; Sandia Ranger District
Region: Central; Manzanita Mountains.
Just south of I-40.
start: 7349ft; 2240m end: 7765ft; 2367m
min: 7349ft; 2240m max: 7765ft; 2367m
elevation gain/loss: 416ft; 127m.
Length: 1.40mi; 2.25km. This area has miles of trails, so you are limited by how much you want to hike. The distance we list here is for the hike from the trailhead to the peak.
surface: gravel
condition: Somewhat eroded in many places, probably due to the fact that it has steeper sections than many hiking trails.
ease of following: The network of trails means you will find many junctions.
obstacles: No value
Fee: $0.00.
Season: All year. Hike anytime snow is not a problem. Ski or snowshoe it if there is a lot of snow.
Dogs: Yes. On leash.
Bikes: Yes. This area is popular with mountain bikers.
Handicapped accessible: No.
General notes: I saw evidence that this area is also used as a party site. I would think about this before hiking on Friday or Saturday evenings.

Water, toilet, trash cans, etc. might be available at the group campground near the trailhead, but then again, maybe not.

A comment from the Forest service on April 10, 2009:

The area has been open to cross country travel by all forms of access including motor vehicles. There has been an environmental assessment done on the Sandia Ranger District (part of the overall travel management plan for the Forest Service) that limits all motorized travel to designated trails only. The "Motor Vehicle Use Map" or MVUM is at the printers and should be out by the 1st of May. The district received $100,000 to sign all of the motorized trails this summer. Once the map is available to the public, the district can begin education and enforcement of keeping motorized vehicles on the designated trails and off of other areas. The NM Off Highway Vehicle Association is applying for a large Recreation Trails Program (RTP--comes from your gasoline taxes and is divided into monies for motorized and non motorized trails) grant at the end of April to further signage and do trail improvements on the motorized trails. One great thing they are doing is applying for monies for "trail limiters" that will keep single track trails open to motorcycles (on trails that permit them) yet keep them from being widened by ATV's full sized 4WD vehicles, etc.
Trailhead facilities: None other than parking.
Hike attractions: exercise, scenery.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2002-11-07
Time it took us: 2:00.
Usage (people/hour): 1.00. I only saw two other people when I hiked it. However, the trail network is popular with mountain bikers, and the proximity to Albuquerque means that you can expect to see people.
Cleanliness: 7. A mountain biking friend says that they have regular "cleanup weekends", but people using the area seem to leave plenty of litter.


Waypoint Type Description
CDROGTTrail pointGate on the Cedro Peak trail
CDROTHTrailheadCibola National Forest Cedro Peak trailhead


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Albuquerque New Mexico USGS 1983 1:100000 Y from sar.lanl.gov (free)
Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District US Forest Service 2006 1:63360 N from Amazon (purchase) Sandia Ranger District portion
Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District US Forest Service 2006 1:36000 Y from Amazon (purchase) Cedro Peak enlargement area
Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah Automobile Club of Southern California 1998 1:0 N from Amazon (purchase) Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the trailhead:

Exit from I-40 at NM 337 south. From the stop light at NM 337 and old US 66 (NM 333), head south for 5.0 miles. You will see a left turn with a left turn bay and a sign that says: Cedro Group Campground and Juan Tomas.

Go 0.6 miles on this road to a left turn on a gravel road. A pair of signs indicate that this is the route to Cedro Campground and Cedro Peak Multiple Use Trail System.

Go 1.5 miles and just past the Cedro Group Campground is the parking area for the (according to a sign) Cedro Trailhead Dispersed Area. It is a large, gravel parking lot with a pair of pit toilets, some trash bins, and one picnic table nearby. When I was there, there was a large, eroded stream gully down the middle of the parking lot, so drive carefully.

The trailhead is just down the road, across from the campground entrance. The trailhead sign is small.

No short text

About the hike:

Trailhead area

You head into the Piñon and Juniper and almost immediately the trail branches. Take the left branch. The trail along here is eroded several inches down from the surrounding ground level. Unfortunately, this further increases the water flow, increasing the erosion.

As you hike along the trail, you should be able to see the trailhead parking area off to the left, between the trees. This trail often parallels the road to the peak.

It appears that as people have hiked, biked, or ridden their dirt bike or ATV, they have gone most anywhere that the trees were wide enough to permit passage. Therefore, you will see many "trails" as you hike. Normally, you can tell which one to be on, and even if you cannot, you just get to see more of the area. A GPS will keep you from getting lost. Also, knowing that the parking area is on the southwest side of the mountain, a compass will get you back to roughly the right area. Finally, you can always just head for the peak and take the road down to the parking area.

When the trail reaches the road, it parallels the road on the right side as you head up. You will see trail 13, which is a two-track heading off to your right. This trail heads back down, so it is not the one to take if you are heading for the peak. You can see trail 13 in the photo to the right.

Instead, the trail to the peak parallels the road, about three to five feet (one or so meters) to the right of the road proper for a little while before diverging slightly. It was along here that I took the picture at the top of this page.

Trail 13
View north
After a little bit more hiking, you meet the road again near a gate (which was clearly set up to prevent vehicle traffic and not foot or bicycle traffic) (GPS: CDROGT). Cross the road and follow the two-track to its end for a great view spot, part of which is in the picture to the right. From this place, you can see the Manzano mountains, Tijeras canyon, Albuquerque and the mountains much further west like Mount Taylor, and the Sandia Mountains. Unfortunately, some people have also decided it is a great place to throw cigarette butts, beer bottles and cans.

Backtrack somewhat to another two-track; that is the trail. If you reach the road on the other side of the gate, you went too far; back up just a little and you will see the main trail continuing to head uphill (or, you can simply take the road).

After only a little more climbing, you reach the peak, where you can wander amongst the microwave and cell phone towers, taking in the views in all directions.

View south

Plants we saw along the trail:

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