The Manzano Mountain Wilderness Area is about two hours south of Rio Rancho and one of the most vast, rewarding places for endless exploration. With 36,875 acres and more than 64 miles of well-developed trail systems providing wilderness access, you can visit for years and never see it all.
The word “Manzano” is Spanish for apple. Explorers discovered apple trees on the eastern edge of the mountains back in the early 1700s. The mountains were named for the trees as the apple trees are not native to this part of the country.
The mountains are most famous for the Fourth of July Campground and Canyon where the large stands of Bigtooth Maple change color to brilliant oranges and reds during the fall. The area also offers a plethora of mountain biking and hiking trails within the Sandia Ranger District.
The area varies in elevation from about 6,000 feet all the way to 10,098 feet atop Manzano Peak. Pinion and juniper grow low, gradually submitting to ponderosa pine and then spruce, fir and aspen higher up. This is steep and rugged terrain for the most part, so be sure to go prepared, as there are few water sources and campsites.
Top trails include Trigo Canyon Trail, rated Hard; Bosque, Manzano Crest, and Cerro Blanco Trails, rated Moderate; Capilla Peak Loop, rated Hard; Triago Canyon #185, Manzano Creek #170, Osha #100 and Comanche #182, rated Hard; Salas Trail #184 and Trigo Trail Loop, rated Hard; and Bosque Peak, rated Moderate. Hiking is best April through October.
The Bosque Peak trail features a cave and recent hikers report spotting a few deer, a mountain lion and black bear scat on the path, so be observant and make noise on your hike to stay safe.
Bird species in the area include hairy woodpecker, black-throated gray warbler, gray flycatcher, pygmy nuthatch, Virginia’s warbler and more. Thousands of raptors migrate along the Manzanos in spring and fall as they work their way between Canada and Mexico.
Small game in the area include Abert’s squirrel and blue grouse. For fishing, Fenton Lake, the Rio Cebolla, the Jemez River and the Rio Guadalupe offer rainbow, brown and Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
Please be sure to follow the seven standard “Leave No Trace” principles. Click on any of the principles listed here to see how they apply in the Manzano Mountain Wilderness.
Looking for a new home or custom homesite near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community 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, abundant open space and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://liveinmariposa.com/
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