Piedra Lisa (Spanish for “smooth rock”) is accessed off Forest Road 333 (near La Luz trailhead parking lot) and affords some of the best views of the Sandias’ massive granite formations, including the Shield, and is a favorite winter hike with the locals.
But a segment of the hike followed a graded gravel road for a bit under a mile and was what Kerry Wood, wilderness and trails program manager for the Cibola National Forest & Grasslands, calls a “less-than-great” experience.
With the help of groups of workers from the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors, Friends of the Sandia Mountains and others, the trail was recently rerouted away from the road.
The change seems to be making both hikers and those who live in the area happier. “I talked with several residents who were really glad to see the change,” he said, adding that mixing vehicles and hikers is not ideal from a safety standpoint.
The trail segment climbs gradually from the trailhead parking lot, winding through the piñon and juniper woods before it starts its climb through a boulder field.
The project is under the umbrella of the Placitas Area Trail Project, which includes the north trailhead for Piedra Lisa and the Strip Mile trail. Planning began in 2012.
The area is three miles east of Interstate 25 and south of N.M. 165. The overall plan calls for:
- Constructing and reconstruct segments of trails using sustainable trail design and construction techniques.
- Rehabilitating trails.
- Obliterating trails and roads not part of the system.
- Constructing designated parking areas.
- Installing trail markers and signs.
Budget restrictions have limited work so far on this project to re-routing and rehabilitation trails to check erosion and move some segments out of the wilderness so far.
Members of the Placitas Area Trail Association have been working throughout the winter, Wood said, and will complete about two miles of trail before they finish in May.