Albuquerque is full of fun winter activities, and one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors is snowshoeing. If you’re an experienced snowshoer and have your own equipment, you can set off on your own and carve new trails in fresh powder in any of the mountain regions surrounding the city. If you’re new to the sport, a guided tour with a local outfitter is a great choice. I recently had the opportunity to join a guided tour in the Sandia Mountains led by Routes Bicycle Tours and Rentals. Their weekly tours are a great opportunity for beginners and more experienced snowshoers alike to see the beauty of the Sandias in the winter.
The tour starts off at the base of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. A tram ticket is provided in the price of the Routes snowshoe tour. No matter how many times I ride the tram, it is still breathtaking to soar over the Sandias and see the city below.
After we got off the tram, it was time to put on our snowshoes. Routes provides snowshoes, telescoping poles, snow gaiters and a snack pack for everyone. The snowshoes were surprisingly easy to put on, and surprisingly easy to walk in. I thought the snowshoes would be much more awkward.
Our destination was Kiwanis Cabin, a historic stone structure about 2 miles away. The terrain is suitable for beginners, so it wasn’t too hard to get the hang of snowshoeing. Veering off the trail into deep snow was quite the workout, but sticking to the packed snow on the trail meant it wasn’t too difficult. You can snowshoe in as little as two inches of snow, but there was 8 to 10 inches on the day I went.
I am not a fan of cold or snow, so I was worried about staying warm on the tour. I shouldn’t have been concerned. Even though the temperature was around freezing, once you get moving you stay plenty warm.
Our friendly and helpful tour guides from Routes, Josh and Bob, led us through the forest. It was magical to walk through the snow-covered trees. It seems much quieter and more peaceful than during the spring or summer when there are more people on the trails.
After a few breaks to stop and rest, the Kiwanis Cabin was finally in sight. I’m not going to lie, the uphill trek the last hundred yards or so to get to the cabin were rough, but with a bit of huffing and puffing I made it to the top with the rest of our group. The view was worth the extra exertion. It’s amazing how much of the city you could see.
It was also interesting to learn the history behind the Kiwanis Cabin. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the cabin of local limestone in the 1930s to replace two previous cabins that had been built of wood and destroyed by a lightning strike and wind. The cabin ruins make for a great photo opportunity, with lots of places to climb (when it’s not covered in snow and ice).
After refueling with some snacks and water, it was time to head back to the tram. The journey back seemed much easier, but maybe I had just adjusted to snowshoeing. It was great to walk along and enjoy being immersed in nature. Before I knew it, we were back at the tram. We stopped for a delicious bite to eat at TEN 3, then rode the tram back down the mountain. This snowshoeing adventure left me exhausted and in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds Albuquerque.
Routes Sandia snowshoe tours take place weekly until mid-March.