Monday, October 19, 2009

Singletracks: ABQ Foothills North

ABQ North Foothills is simply a blast to ride! Flowy singletrack predominates and yet there's still enuf tech riding to satisfy the rockhound in ya. And yet it proves a mere 15 minutes from la casa de Roughriders.

Popular trailhead access is via Spain, Montgomery (Embudito), ABQ Tram, and Elena Gallegos Picinic Area. You'll find there's a nominal fee req'd to access via the Tram or EGPA, making Spain and Embudito the more logical choice for regular riding. Embudito also offers a bonus mile of tread before you intersect the track coming up from Spain, making Embudito my preferred launch point for ABQ FH North.

To begin from Embudito TH, you'll initially follow the venerable Trail 365, then onto various linked trails to circumnavigate the Elena Gallegos bowl. General traffic trends counter-clockwise, however I mix it up once in a while to vary the climbs and downhills. You can string together various loops and figure-eights to highlight sections to your liking, there's really a ton of mileage to be discovered. Highlights are noted on the map, just start double-clicking and zooming to explore around.

ABQ FH North is popular with runners in the AM, hikers all day long, you'll want to watch your speed on the blind corners. All users seem to get along, please maintain good ettiquette to keep things friendly up there. Wildlife seems mostly limited to cottontails, prolly a symptom of the trail's popularity. Keep an eye open for rattlesnakes however, esp on the northern trails in the height of summer, I've skipped a few heartbeats the last few years.

There are a coupla neat options to consider:
  1. Snake Cuttoff: a Roughrider favorite skirting the Elena Gallegos picnic area on the north. Ride it downhill but of course, a flowy, curvy, ton of fun, made more so by recent water bar work that'll give the daring a bit of air.
  2. Water Tower extension: you can add a coupla miles to your ride by heading north off Chipped Tooth toward the Tram/Water Tower TH. Ride this leg as an out-and-back to keep from poaching the Wilderness trail a bit to the East (patrolled).
  3. More fun (and mileage!) to be had by stringing together ABQ FHs North and South. By hugging 365 leaving the South Foothills area, you'll be shunted onto Glenwood Hills Drive for just about 2 miles before you head up to Embudito Trailhead. Treating NFH as a lollipop, you can head back down to SFH, a ride of 18-20 miles, pretty schweet for its proximity to ABQ's outskirts.
ABQ Openspace Map of Elena Gallegos

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