For panoramic views and a challenging hike, the La Luz Trail is hard to beat. It stretches for roughly nine miles to altitudes of up to 10,378 feet through the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque.
The climb can be quite strenuous, with steep grades, rocky footing, and little shade along the way. Trees and an abundance of colorful wildflowers give way to stark cliffs as the trail rises from a starting elevation of just 7,000 feet at the parking area near the Juan Tabo turnoff from Tramway. A $3 parking fee applies to each vehicle.
At the crest of the trail, hikers can rest with a drink, snack or meal at the High Finance Restaurant. It is located in the terminal of the Sandia Peak Tramway, which can be used for the return trip. Otherwise, plenty of time should be allotted for coming back down the trail to avoid descent after darkness falls.
La Luz Trail is open from late spring through summer and well into autumn. It is sometimes closed due to fire danger, so hikers are advised to check with the Sandia Ranger District prior to departure. Bringing along plenty of drinking water and energy bars is highly recommended, too.