A half-day hike at the edge of Albuquerque, but one where you feel like you briefly got away from it all. It’s inspired by, but deviates slightly from, the Boundary Loop Trail in Mike Coltrin’s hiking guide. The area has a spider web of trails (visible on Google Earth) so if you wish to vary or extend the hike, it’s easy to do so. This is a fairly low elevation hike that’s best reserved for the fall through spring.
To reach the trailhead from the center of Albuquerque, head north on I-25, then east on Tramway Boulevard, turn north (left) on FR 333 as Tramway begins its southward bend. (If you’re headed north on Tramway from the east end of town, turn right onto FR 333 as Tramway bends westward.) Immediately after crossing the second cattle guard, at
JCL-PARK: 35 deg. 12.148 min. N, 106 deg. 30.270 min. W
turn right into the pullout and park.
Proceed to the northeast end of the pullout, cross FR 333, and follow the path up the ridge slope. Two paths branch off to the right, one most of the way up the slope and the other all of the way up the slope. Take either of those branch paths and follow the ridgeline to the northeast. (Mike Coltrin’s route continues over the top of the ridge before turning northeast to angle down into Jaral Canyon. That slope is less exposed than the ridgeline, so you might wish to follow his route exactly on a warm or windy day.)
If the short climb out of the parking lot left you panting, don’t worry, that’s the hardest part of the hike. At
JCL-1: 35 deg. 12.449 min. N, 106 deg. 30.004 min. W
you reach an intersection of five paths, depending on what you count. Take the path more or less straight ahead (the third path from the right). This path angles down into Jaral Canyon. Once in the canyon bottom, follow the stream bed upstream (northward). Once that natural route peters out, the path leaves it to continue northward to
JCL-2: 35 deg. 13.051 min. N, 106 deg. 29.840 min. W
where you intersect a trail along the local ridge crest. Head a few steps north to enjoy a view into Juan Tabó Canyon, then take the ridgeline trail to the southwest (left). This will take you past a local high point with great views, then down a slope to
JCL-3: 35 deg. 12.885 min. N, 106 deg. 30.020 min. W
Where five paths (depending on what you count) come together. The one bending sharply to the right (north) leads down to Juan Tabó Canyon (see this hike description). Of the remaining three paths you haven’t been on, take the middle one (which leads down along a branch of Jaral Canyon. Eventually, the path angles up onto a ridgeline. Follow the ridgeline as long as possible, until you drop into the bottom of Jaral Canyon at
JCL-4: 35 deg. 12.365 min. N, 106 deg. 30.125 min. W
After crossing the wash, maximize the loop by choosing the path that heads southwest as it slowly climbs the northwest slope of the local ridge. Once this path reaches the ridgeline, you’re at the top of the path out of the parking area. Follow the latter path 130 meters or so back to the pullout where you parked.