Top 10 Running Trails in Albuquerque
- 1. Paseo del Bosque Trail
- 2. Bear Canyon Loop
- 3. Los Poblanos Open Space
- 4. Albuquerque Academy Loop
- 5. Sandia Foothills Open Space
- 6. Rinconada Canyon Trail
- 7. University of New Mexico Campus
- 8. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
- 9. Elena Gallegos Open Space
- 10. Boca Negra Canyon
- Interested in another city?
Albuquerque, New Mexico, is home to so many trail running options it’s almost dizzying. With a fantastic local landscape full of mountains, hills, rocks, and more, you’ll find plenty of great off-road trails for running. On the same note, this city is home to many great urban routes too! To help you plan your running routine in the area, let’s explore some of the most highly recommended running trails in Albuquerque.
1. Paseo del Bosque Trail
The Paseo del Bosque Trail (also known as the Rio Grande Trails) follows the Rio Grande River through western Albuquerque. The paved 16-mile multi-use trail features an additional five miles of dirt trail and several points of interest along the route, including the Rio Grande Nature Center, the Albuquerque BioPark, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The path is uninterrupted by local roads and also has plenty of cool local art along the way. You’ll also enjoy amazing views of the river and the Sandia Mountains as you run. Plus, with plenty of easily accessible parking and access points, the Paseo del Bosque Trail is a favorite among local runners.
Tips: The only bathrooms on the trail are on the southeast side of the Alameda bridge. This trail is also very flat, and bikers tend to ride very quickly, so watch out!
2. Bear Canyon Loop
The 2.2-mile Bear Canyon Loop is a fantastic way for runners to experience Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains. The area is home to more than 150 miles of rugged trails that canvas the area, but this specific loop offers an incredibly scenic route without all the tricky terrain features that lead to sprained ankles. The Bear Canyon Loop features a gradual incline leading you to the Spain Trailhead. After the trailhead, the route gets steeper, but it’s nothing beginner or moderately experienced runners can’t handle.
Tips: This trail starts at 6,000 feet, so you may need to take some time to acclimate to the altitude if you’re just visiting the area.
3. Los Poblanos Open Space
The Los Poblanos Open Space has three loops for runners, walkers, and bicyclists to enjoy. It’s situated on 138 acres of agricultural land and is also a popular bird-watching area year-round. All three loops have a wide natural surface and are under two miles, with sights of the local natural habitat to enjoy along the way. The views of the mountains are breathtaking and you don’t even have to leave the city to enjoy them! The only downfall is the lack of shade, so don’t forget to wear plenty of sunscreen and grab a hat and sunglasses on your way out to protect yourself from the sun while you run.
Tips: While you run here, watch for songbirds, hawks, and kestrels. In the fall and winter, you can catch hundreds of Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese migrating into the area.
4. Albuquerque Academy Loop
The Albuquerque Academy Loop is one of the most popular running routes in the Albuquerque area. It doesn’t require stopping for any traffic, allowing you to maintain your pace uninterrupted. This 3.1-mile loop features a nice mixture of paved path, sidewalk, and dirt. Most runners recommend parking between Academy and Harper Streets and running east along Wyoming for a flat route with excellent views of the Sandia Mountains and the city.
Tips: This loop is well-loved by local and visiting runners, so expect to have some company.
5. Sandia Foothills Open Space
The Sandia Foothills Open Space features about 2,650 acres of steep hills at the base of the Sandia Mountains. Several trailheads here offer fantastic rugged running routes through the hills, including:
- Copper Trailhead
- Michael Emery Trailhead
- Piedra Lisa Trailhead
- Embudo Trailhead
The running routes here are challenging, but the open space is home to several of the city’s best, including the La Luz Trail (8 to 9 miles) and Trail 365 (12.7 miles long). The routes wind through the natural landscape featuring prickly pear cacti, junipers, and wild grasses. They’re truly unbeatable, with panoramic views over Albuquerque, colorful wildflowers, and plenty of incredible wildlife, from mule deer, coyotes, black bears, and cougars to rabbits, lizards, snakes, and birds.
Tips: The elevation ranges from 5,720 to 6,800 feet above sea level in the area.
6. Rinconada Canyon Trail
Rinconada Canyon is an area in Albuquerque that features unique geology due to volcanic activity 200,000 years ago. The eruptions produced the Santa Fe Formation, home to prehistoric and historic petroglyphs and fascinating human-made rock alignments and shelters. Trail runners can explore this incredible area by following the main trail along the base of the canyon’s north side. It’s about 1.1 miles long (2.2 miles round trip) and is moderately difficult. Along the way, you’ll see hundreds of petroglyphs. Although this trail isn’t pet-friendly, you can run through the canyon’s center along a different trail with your dog.
Tips: The Volcanoes Trail (3.2) is another favorite trail in this area. This loop trail allows you to run in, around, and on top of the Volcanoes within Petroglyph National Monument.
7. University of New Mexico Campus
Although many of the running routes in Albuquerque are trails outside urban areas, there are still opportunities to clock some miles in the city. At the University of New Mexico Campus, you can create your own running route by combining some of the pathways within the pretty UNM campus, including the Duck Pond off Las Lomas Boulevard, the loop around the perimeter of Johnson Field, or the university’s golf course, which features a 1.9-mile cinder path loop around its edge. It’s easy to create a variety of routes here, and you can still enjoy scenic views over the South Valley.
Tips: Running the campus in the evening is especially pretty, with sunset views over the Sandia Mountains.
8. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park has 1.2 miles of trails for runners to enjoy, plus many other exciting amenities and attractions. The park is located on the Rio Grande flyway and has wildlife viewing areas, a visitor center with exhibits on local wildlife, and beautiful gardens. It also hosts many educational programs and festivals year-round. Many runners enjoy jogging on the Candelaria Trail, which runs through the park and connects to the more urban 16-mile Paseo del Bosque Trail.
Tips: The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is also popular for birding and photography.
9. Elena Gallegos Open Space
Elena Gallegos Open Space is a 640-acre park with an elevation of about 6,500 feet. A fantastic network of multi-use trails winds through the park, offering visitors and residents an active way to explore the natural landscape. The routes vary in distance, but as you run them, you’ll pass through an enchanting landscape full of pinyon-juniper woodlands and local wildlife, including coyotes, bears, and cougars. A run here also features stunning views of Mt. Taylor, the Jemez Mountains, and the Tijeras Arroyo.
Tips: The Cottonwood Springs Trail is a local favorite at Elena Gallegos Open Space, with shady rest stops and original local artwork on display.
10. Boca Negra Canyon
Runners looking for a quick and easily accessible trail run in the Albuquerque area will love Boca Negra Canyon. This canyon is a section of Petroglyph National Monument and features three self-guided trails: Mesa Point, Macaw, and Cliff Base. Although they’re all short trails, you can combine them into one giant loop and enjoy all three simultaneously. Or, if you only have time for a quick run, pick the one that best suits your running goals. Mesa Point is the most challenging of the three, and the Macaw and Cliff Base trails are moderately strenuous. All three paths are rugged, off-road routes, so be prepared for a challenge either way!
Tips: At Boca Negra Canyon, you can see about 100 petroglyphs. Be on the lookout for them as you run!
Interested in another city?
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- BrandonStephenson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons