July 16, 1998
Sandia 10K Trail No. 200
Highlights: An easy-to-follow, year-round trail; ski it in the winter. Location: Most people stop 2 miles below Sandia Crest at the unmarked parking lot (10-car capacity) on the Sandia Scenic Byway, N.M. 536. One can hike either North 10K or South 10K. It also can be accessed from South Crest Trail, 1 mile south of the tram station, or from North Crest Trail, 3 miles north of the tram station. Altitude: ABout 9,400-10,000 feet Round-trip distance: About 4 miles on the north end; 4.6 on the south end Cautions: Take plenty of water and rain gear, and wear sturdy hiking boots. Watch for mountain bikes near the ski area. Maps: Sandia Mountain Wilderness, Cibola National Forest Printable map
Traversing the verdant eastern side of the Sandia Mountains, 10K Trail, No. 200, takes its name from its highest elevation, 10,000 feet. Beginning at the intersection with South Crest (No. 130) and Tree Spring (No. 146) Trails, 10K bisects mountain bike paths and alpine ski trails, and passes under two chair lifts.
Staying on 10K is easy; just follow the blue diamonds indicating that it's a designated cross-country ski route.
The four-season trail provides open vistas that include San Pedro Mountain and the Ortiz Mountains, which gave Golden its name.
Even as this non-wilderness trail approaches Scenic Byway 536, a sense of solitude prevails. In midsummer, Calypso Orchids stand to full height at 6 inches. Mountain violets and irises vie with the Golden Pea and Western Wallflower for attention.
After crossing Scenic Byway 536 to North 10K, hikers reach the peak 10,000-feet elevation before making a slight descent along natural contours. The trail accesses Osha Loop and moves up to join North Crest Trail at Cañon del Agua lookout.
If you brought a picnic lunch, stop here, sit close to the limestone edge and admire the grand stand of aspen to your left, the town of Bernalillo, and Cabezon Peak to the west and north.
Sue B. Mann