Embudito Trail in the Sandias

 

For now, just a comment on the Embudito Trail. If you follow the directions in Mike Coltrin's Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide, for the most part you'll do fine. There is one tricky spot on the lower trail, however, for those hiking up canyon. Once you reach the bare flat spot at 35 deg. 8.065 min. N, 106 deg. 28.428 min. W, the trail dissolves into a confusing series of paths. Coltrin writes, "Looking toward the south, one or two paths go over the rise, and you will see that they start heading down toward the canyon bottom. You want to take the branch just to the left of those paths and head uphill past a large boulder. It is easy to take the wrong fork here, because the paths appear almost equally worn."

 

The problem is, it's easy to bear too far to the left, following some minor sort-of path, and miss the proper trail. (Perhaps people have overreacted to Coltrin's advice, and in so doing have created new paths.) You can muddle through until you find the trail again, but it's much easier to use the correct route. Please take a look at the photo below, and I'll use it to guide you past the confusing spot.

 

The tricky spot as you head up the lower Embudito Trail
The tricky spot as you head up the lower Embudito Trail

 

Part of the confusion may be because as you look up canyon from the bare spot, you face two prominent boulders, not one. As you first step away from the bare spot, head between the two boulders (upward pointing arrow). But don't head past the more prominent boulder on the left, though there are impromptu paths that encourage you to do so. Instead, head to the right of (and just downslope from) the less prominent boulder to the right (downward pointing arrow). As soon as you're past the right (in both senses of the word) boulder, the route becomes much more straightforward.

 

Also, about 150 meters past the boulders shown above, look for the boulder shown below. Because of the prominent xenolith (darker rock) that is eroding from the granite, it should be easy to spot. At that boulder make a sharp left and head on up the switchback; don't continue straight ahead. If you make this turn, the rest of the route should be much more obvious.

 

At this boulder with the prominent xenolith (embedded dark stone), the correct trail bends sharply left and up. Past this point the route is fairly obvious.
At this boulder with the prominent xenolith (embedded dark stone), the correct trail bends sharply left and up. Past this point the route is fairly obvious.

A Sunday stroller taking a nap along the lower Embudito Trail. The Albuquerque suburbs can be seen in the upper right corner of the photo.
A Sunday stroller taking a nap along the lower Embudito Trail. The Albuquerque suburbs can be seen in the upper right corner of the photo.