Best Trails in Rio Rancho

Best Trails in Rio Rancho

Posted on March 28, 2023

Looking to connect to a new location, or rediscover the place you already call home? Get outside and enjoy some of the best hiking, biking and running trails in New Mexico, near Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. With breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, rolling hills, desert highlands, stunning wildflowers and local wildlife, these amazing trails will have you appreciating our state’s beauty even more. Here are six trails, ranging from easy to difficult, that allow you to better connect to our enchanting state.

Mini Badlands Loop

The Mariposa Preserve has more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, but the top-rated mountain biking trail is the Mini Badlands Loop. Not for the novice mountain biker, this exciting trail is a very sandy, narrow singletrack loop. Fat Bikes (3 inch tires or fatter, with very low pressure) are required so that the highly erosive trail system is preserved. It is a very challenging trail and in a flash flood area, so be aware of local storms. The trail provides great views of the sprawling Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountain ranges.

1.6 Miles


Bicycles: Singletrack

No Dogs – ride it clockwise only

Directions: 6037 Redondo Sierra Vista NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87144

South Piedra Lisa Trail
Located near Albuquerque, New Mexico, this trail is blooming with wildflowers during the spring. Along the hike, you’ll see high desert grasslands, denser forest, and a breathtaking view of the Sandia Mountains at the end. The views of wilderness, valley and mountains are worth the climb, which can be quite steep along some parts of the ascent. This trail is also lined with desert plants such as juniper trees, staghorn and prickly pear cacti.

It’s a moderately used trail, takes about three hours to complete and many hikers have enjoyed taking their dogs along the trail with them. Be sure to follow the trail that is marked, take out what you bring, and stay hydrates.

4.4 Miles


Bicycles: No

Directions: State Rte 333 D, Albuquerque, NM 87122

Willow Creek Trail
If a leisurely walk through nature is more your speed, then the Willow Creek Trail is the place to go. Here you can enjoy walking or running at the pace you set, and for as little or as long as you would like, all while enjoying views of beautiful trees and landscape that differ from the surrounding desert. Along the trail there are nature guideposts where you can learn about the foliage in the area. This would be the perfect place to enjoy an evening spent with your family!

It’s an easy trail where you can run, walk and ride your bike. Make sure to follow the trail rules posted at the entrance.

2 Miles


Bicycles: Yes

Directions: 2579 Willow Creek Rd NE, Rio Rancho, NM

10k Trailhead
Located in the Sandia Mountains, the 10k trailhead offers not only beautiful hiking views, it is also a space where you can enjoy mountain biking and horseback riding. Plus, during the winter months, the trail is open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This area is perfect for anyone looking to be adventurous, as you can tailor the hike to the type of experience you’re hoping to have.

If you aren’t looking to hike, you can also enjoy the same views driving the loop of the Sandia Mountains. Just be cautious and aware of which roads are permitted for motorized vehicles.

Up to 26 Miles


Bicycles: Yes

Directions: Sandia Crest Scenic Hwy, Cedar Crest, NM 87008

Mesa Point Trail
If you have never seen petroglyphs, this is the trail for you! Along the .2 mile route, you’ll be able to read educational signs about the petroglyphs dotting the hillside. Once at the summit, you’ll enjoy the panoramic views of the hillsides below, including a few extinct volcanoes. This trail consists of switch backs and climbing on boulders. Be prepared to use your hands for part of the hike. It is better to bring older adventurous children to this trail!

0.2 Miles


Bicycles: No

Directions: 6415 Star Bright Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120

North Crest Trail
The North Crest trail is the perfect fit for those who desire a longer hike. This trail will challenge avid hikers, and many decide to split it into a two-day trip to really enjoy their surroundings. The trail is lined with trees that provide welcome shade most of the year. During spring you’ll find it lush and green with scenic views of the mountain ranges nearby. North Crest Trail can be tailored to individual hiking experiences with multiple starting and stopping points along the way.

10.1 Miles


Bicycles: No

Directions: From Albuquerque, drive North on I-25 to Exit 242 Bernalillo/NM 165, stay to your right as you exit the ramp. Proceed East on NM 165 and drive just short of five miles to “Tunnel Springs Road” (green street sign). Look for a group of mailboxes at the turn. Turn right and follow the dirt road to the end (about three miles). There is a parking lot and Vault toilet as well as a kiosk at the trailhead with a map of the area.

Looking for a new home or custom home site near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community situated just 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully-equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails and abundant open space, and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains.

Learn more at

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