Embudito Canyon is a favorite of Albuquerque locals, and a staging area for many activities and hikes into the Sandia Mountains
. Translated as 'little funnel' in English, this canyon is a major drainage of spring snow melt and summer monsoon storm waters. People hike here all year, but despite its proximity to Albuquerque, its parking lot is relatively hidden and keeps the use numbers down.
Cactus in Bloom
The Entrance to the Canyon
Albuquerque Open Space Foothills Trail 365 starts here and heads north to the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. Many locals hike these trails, but they are most popular for mountain biking.
Embudito Trail 192 heads east into the Sandia Mountain Wilderness and is one of the ways to ascend South Sandia Peak
. This trail runs for 4.1 miles until it connects up to the Three Gun Trail 194. From here one can either travel south on Three Gun Trail and connect to the Embudo Trail 193, or continue on Embudito Trail 192 to the summit of South Sandia Peak and intersections with the South Crest Trail 130s and the CCC Trail.
The unofficial and unnamed trail for the summit of Point 8009
also leaves from here. The start of this trail begins just inside the Sandia Mountain Wilderness Boundary by the signboard.
Stemless Evening Primrose
Cactus and Granite
The runoff waters provide life for the high desert scrub such as Chamisa and Cholla, the Pinyon and Juniper woodlands on the sides of the canyon, and for the various riparian plants found in the canyon bottom. Prickly Pear, Gambel's Oak, and Blue Gramma are abundant. As one travels further up the Embudito Trail pines begin to take over.
Embudito Canyon is also a popular place to bird, and is a major destination on the west side of the Sandia Mountains. Birds that have been found here include:
This area is great for birding!
The Mouth of Embudito
Depths of the Canyon
From the parking lot, head north to get to the trailhead. At the entrance from the parking lot, there is a sign announcing the Foothills Trail System. Take a right at the sign to stay on the official Embudito Trail 192, and to get to the start of the ascent for Point 8009. Head straight ahead on Foothills Trail 365 to head towards Elena Gallegos Picnic Area or to start up Embudito canyon via the prominent wash. The official Embudito Trail 192 eventually crosses the wash and ascends the canyon via the north wall.
If wanting to explore the canyon bottom, head east up the wash until the walls constrict and you reach a concrete basin, often filled with water. From this point the granite slickrock takes over and the path up the canyon requires stream crossings, scrambling up slickrock, thrashing through dense riparian vegetation, and clambering over boulders. Fortunately, there is a well-worn trail at the bottom of the canyon to help guide the way.
At any point, one can choose to clamber up the north wall of the canyon to regain the ridge and hike on Embudito Trail 192. A good loop is to either work up the canyon bottom, escape to the ridge and come down the official trail to the parking lot (enjoying good views of Albuquerque on the way) or to hike up the trail, clamber down into the canyon bottom, and return via the wash. Either loop is fun and a great diversion.
According to the
American Canyoneering Association's rating, this canyon would be a 1A I
meaning that it requires a bit of scrambling, does not require wading or swimming, and can be done easily in a few hours.
From I-40, head north on Tramway for 4.2 miles to Montgomery Blvd. Turn right (east) on Montgomery and drive for ½ mile to Glenwood Hills. Glenwood Hills will be the second stop sign. Turn left on Glenwood Hills and drive ½ mile to Trailhead Road. Trailhead Road is marked with a brown sign designating it as the access to the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. Turn right and drive .2 mile to the Embudito Canyon parking lot. The gate for the trailhead is on the north side of the lot.
There is no fee to park at Embudito Canyon. However, the parking lot is gated, and is open from 7AM to 9PM April to October, and from 7AM to 7PM November to March. If hiking into the Sandia Mountain Wilderness, you are allowed to leave your car overnight, just be advised that it will be locked into the parking lot.
Dispersed camping is allowed in the Sandias, but there are no designated campgrounds. Fires are not allowed.
The 7.5 USGS map is Sandia Crest (NM)
Cibola National Forest publishes the Sandia Mountain Wilderness Map
available locally in Albuquerque at REI near the intersection of Montaño and I-25. It costs about $14.95 and is plasticized for weatherproofing. You can get it for $7 if you go directly to the Cibola National Forest Office off of Osuna. To get there from I-25 head west on Osuna. Take a right onto Chappell Drive. The office will be on the west side of the street in about 1/4 mile.
Probably the best map to purchase is the newer Sandia Mountains – GPS Powered Trail Map
by Dharma Maps. It is a 1:45,000 scale topographic map complete with 1:25,000 insets, mileages, and access points. It is printed on waterproof paper and is smaller, more detailed, and more portable than the National Forest map. It can be purchased at Amazon.com for $9.95, and is also available locally at REI near the intersection of Montaño and I-25.
City of Albuquerque Open Space
Cibola National Forest
American Canyoneering Academy