Despite being in New Mexico for three full months last summer, I had not hiked the La Luz trail since 2016. Yesterday, I set out to rectify that.
La Luz is perhaps the most popular trail in New Mexico. Located on the western side of the Sandias, it offers a seven-mile climb from about 7,000 feet to the crest at 10,250. Since the trail begins on the desert floor, it is imperative to get there early in the morning in order to be at tree-level by the time the sun comes over the mountains. I timed it perfectly, passing the first good-sized pinon the same time I had to put on my sunglasses.
The hardest part of La Luz is the rock slides on the final two miles. A fellow hiker told me the original trail avoided the talus slope but was nearly vertical. One hiking guide says it there are 19 switchbacks across the granite boulders, another 15, but then who’s counting. It is tough, slow going.
The trail splits at the top. Two years ago, I opted for the flat mile directly to the tram, only to discover I was on a narrow catwalk. This year, I tried the further half-mile climb, only to discover it also had some spectacular drop offs. But it did have the benefit of providing a beautiful walk through towering fir trees back to the tram.