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10.78 miles

Elevation Gain

3595 ft

Route Type



Added by Korey Taylor

This strenuous hike is definitely worth the reward.

*This is a loop hike so you can go either direction. I like going counterclockwise to hike the steepest part up instead of down at the end of a long hike.*

You'll start out on the Three Gun Trail for about half a mile until you reach a spur to take Hawk Watch Trail. After traveling briefly on this trail you're going to come to a large washed out area that looks like you could go either left or right, don't, continue going straight. The trail is relatively easy to follow and well marked after this for about a mile and a half. After that you're going to reach a plateau and there will be a large wooden post designating the official end of the Hawk Watch Trail, but there is a connector trail that continues up to connect with the South Crest Trail. This connector trail is STRENUOUS. You gain a lot of elevation very quickly and the trail is loose sand the majority of the way up. There are cairns along the way to help guide you to the crest, this is the hardest part of the entire hike, but you got this! Once you reach the the South Crest Trail it's smooth sailing. You'll head west on the South Crest Trail once you reach it and stay on it for just over a mile before reaching a turn off for Embudito Trail, continue straight on South Crest Trail. You'll continue on this trail for under half a mile before seeing signage for Sandia Peak to your left, take this spur. You'll follow this trail west, come over a ridge and then the trail will bend North towards the peak. There is some minor scrambling as you make your way to the peak, but the views are incredible one you reach it. Once you've had your fill of summit photos (or perhaps a summit beer) you'll go back on the trail you came in on. However instead of following the trail to the left where you initially came, you're going to continue straight. In the second picture that's the trail you're going to follow down on your way out. You're going to continue on this trail until you reach the Embudito Trail again and you're going to follow it west (or to your right). You'll follow this trail for just about a mile before you come to another trail intersection. The Embudito Trail will continue to your right, but you want to make a sharp left up a slight incline to start following the Three Gun Spring Trail. You'll follow this trail for another mile and a half before reaching another intersection with the Embudo Trail, but you're going to want to continue on Three Gun Spring Trail slightly Southeast (or to your left). You'll continue down along some switchbacks for another mile or so until the trail starts to flatten out. Continue along the trail and eventually you'll see where you turned off for Hawk Watch Trail. You're almost back to the parking lot, give yourself a hand! 

If you don't feel strong enough to do the hike with these directions alone, I suggest downloading a topo map of the area. Enjoy!

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Leave No Trace

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