The Grand Enchantment Trail (New Mexico)

DISTANCE (round-trip)

396mi (637.3km)

DIFFICULTY

TIME

20-30 days

ALTERNATIVE TO

The Continental Divide Trail

SOLITUDE

Through the Land of Enchantment

Ending or beginning in Albuquerque, the New Mexico section  of the Grand Enchantment Trail stays in the remote reaches of America’s southwest, climbing high altitude mountains.

The majority of New Mexico hiking takes place through Gila National Forest. The highlight of the trail is hiking through the Gila Wilderness Area, America’s first public land to be designated as such. If you are into history, the great Aldo Leopold was instrumental in its designation.

The Gila Wilderness and Blue mountains in western New Mexico are home to the Mexican Wolf reintroduction program. One of the world’s most endangered species, only about 50 currently exist in the wild. Hiking through this remote stretch and listening to the wolf’s howl is one of the coolest parts of the hike.

High altitude, endangered wildlife, and large wilderness areas await the intrepid hiker. New Mexico is a relatively unexplored state and the Grand Enchantment Trail is named after her beauty. This half and the Arizona half combined make for a rare backcountry treat.

When to go

If only hiking the New Mexico half, begin in late spring, in June. Being in higher altitudes the weather will be cooler and by that time most of the snow will have melted.

It is also possible to start in Albuquerque during late summer, July or August but be warned, the low altitude deserts will be scorching.

Getting there

To the trailhead in Albuquerque, follow 25N to 556E, taking a left on Tramway rd, only about 24 minutes from the city center. Tramway trail is the beginning point and climbing Sandia crest will be your first challenge!

Know before you go

  • The Gila Wilderness Area is one of the largest in the the United States
  • Be aware of snow in the higher altitudes
  • Washes and streams are prone to flash floods

For more information:

  • Visit Simblissity for everything you need to know about planning your hike. 

The trail cuts through open grassland

Staring into the wooded wilderness of New Mexico

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

About the author

JoelSalvino

Addicted to the dark areas on light pollution maps, I focus on documenting the world's remote spaces. I hope to inspire others to be an active member of the ecosystem all around us. Our most valuable resources, clean air, clean water, and open spaces are being parceled off and destroyed at an alarming rate. Let's enjoy Earth and share it with future generations. You can check out my blog Not A Guide Book