4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Pino Trail climbs from the high desert of Albuquerque into subalpine forest on the Sandia Crest, through different vegetation zones along the way.
When not in the trees, views are of rocky peaks all around and the city far below.
It ends at a saddle on the crest, which is thick with scrub oak, but a rock outcrop provides an elevated vantage.
This saddle is also the junction with Crest Trail, which continues north and south, making extended hikes possible. Pino Trail begins in Elena Gallegos Open Space, which charges a small entry fee and has amenities like toilets, picnic tables, and plenty of parking.
The trail stays in this park only briefly before entering the Sandia Mountains Wilderness of Cibola National Forest.
As it climbs higher into the mountains, the path is fairly easy to follow but overgrown in places.
It's open year round, though the higher elevations are usually snowy from December through May.
Keep in mind that summer brings the dangers of both extreme heat and thunderstorms, so starting very early is best.