Chair lift: One-way w/ bike $10 | All day w/ bike $18
King of the Mountain | Golden Eagle | Falcon Ridge
• Open only on weekends during
summer months and later Friday, too
(check website for exact dates)
If you happen to find
yourself within driving distance of Albuquerque, New Mexico, you owe
it to yourself (and your bike) to pay Sandia Peak Ski Area a visit.
Designed for skiing in the winter, Sandia Peak offers smiles…I mean
miles…of downhill joy in the summer. We all know that in Texas our selection
of true downhills is quite limited; and, what a Texas rider refers to
as a ‘downhill’ would only qualify as a ‘section’ at Sandia Peak.
Sandia Peak is comprised of five routes: Golden Eagle (downhill), Falcon Ridge (downhill), King of the Mountain (uphill), and the Service Road at the top & Capulin Spring Road at the bottom (ok, not truly trails, but they are on the map!). Don’t worry, even though there is an uphill trail, you can sit back and enjoy the slow ride up via chairlift, watching your bike ride along in front of you, as you watch other riders flying out of the trees and back in along the winding singletrack below.
Golden Eagle may be labeled as the easiest of all the trails (with the exception of the service roads, of course), but don’t let that discourage you from riding it. Easy in terms of technical difficulty? Ok. But when you add speed to this already fast downhill you can guarantee that you are going to have a great ride. Laced with more switchbacks than you know what to do with and faster straight sections out in the open, Golden Eagle is the best and most fun that Sandia Peak has to offer. The only downside to Golden Eagle would be the fact that since it isn’t the more difficult of the two Sandia downhill routes, many of the riders you will come across aren’t exactly trying to set land-speed records and may be on a mountain bike for the second time in their lives, so just keep an eye out ahead of you and let them know you are coming.
Falcon Ridge is considered “More Difficult” according to the Sandia Peak map and I would agree that being labeled as such is a fairly accurate description. Many of the switchbacks along Falcon Ridge are a bit tighter than on Golden Eagle, and a few spots actually have you going uphill on your way down. The biggest difference between Golden Eagle and Falcon Ridge would probably be the rocks. Golden Eagle is fairly clear of any true obstacles, for the most part; on the other hand, Falcon Ridge offers rocky sections reminiscent of the Texas Hill Country at times. Naturally, these three key differences adversely affect just how much speed you can achieve on your way from peak to base. Not saying Falcon Ridge isn’t worth the ride, it is; but, only if you are looking to mix in a bit more technical riding as opposed to ripping through switchbacks at speed.
For those that have an affinity for long, burning climbs, Sandia Peak has you covered. King of the Mountain is essentially Falcon Ridge in reverse, which means you are headed up to the top of the peak. That’s 8.3 miles to the top, but who’s counting? If you choose to attempt the climb and make it, then a big ol’ congratulations to you! Personally, I’m taking the perfectly good chairlift.
Oh, and did we mention the view?
~ MountainBikeTx.com(Aug 2008)