So, I left off in my last post, where Kendra and I, and our hard-working horses, had finally arrived on the Manzano Crest Trail after traveling 3.9 miles on the Spruce Spring Trail and gaining close to 2,000 ft of elevation. Kendra and I had been discussing if we were going to turn around and ride back down Spruce Spring Trail, or if we had time to continue riding on Manzano Crest Trail, then pick up Red Canyon Trail at the next junction so we could complete the entire loop.
The map told us that Spruce Spring Trail was 3.9 miles, while continuing the loop trail from the Manzano Crest Trail/Spruce Spring Trail junction, across the Manzano Crest Trail to the Red Canyon Trail junction, and then riding down the Red Canyon Trail back to the trail head, would total 3.6 miles. So, after looking back at the trail we had just come from, emerging from out of the forest into the meadow, we both realized we really wanted to do the entire loop trail.
So, we mounted up and headed up the Manzano Crest Trail….which quickly began a fairly steep and unrelenting ascent, as it traveled toward Gallo Peak at 10,003 ft elevation.
We were soon afforded breathtaking views towards the north, of the Manzano Mountain range and farther north to the Sandia Mountains and the Sandia Crest, where I had just ridden Apache a couple weeks earlier(which is where my header photo was taken) (thanks Kendra for this photo below)
The forest trail on the crest was peaceful, quiet and shadowy.
I think Kendra and I were both surprised at how the trail continued to climb and climb. The trail guide book said that Manzano Crest Trail was a gradual climb on just 1.2 miles of trail, but I think we both thought it would be a little less intense and would level out at some point, but it never did. In fact, we had to negotiate a number of switchbacks, too.
But I was thrilled to see these unique twin aspen trees beside the trail.
Our horses huffed and puffed up the steep trail and we stopped often to let them catch their breath and have a rest. Thankfully, at that elevation, the temps were refreshingly cool.
But the trail continued to climb…….
And we enjoyed the beautiful views at the top.
We were all relieved when the trail began to head downhill finally….
I was so thankful for my sure-footed Apache mare. These mountain sides were steep!
Just so happy to be out on these beautiful trails with my sweet, willing mare.
Kendra and I were so excited every time we rode through another whimsical and lovely aspen grove.
But finally we arrived in another sunny, wildflower-filled meadow and discovered the junction for the Red Canyon Trail……..
The Adventure Continues…………………