January 12, 2016
New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque, has been named one of the best in the United States for its outdoors by National Geographic Adventure, and the Paseo del Bosque plays a major role in the city’s outdoorsy status. A network of trails weaves through the city but none are held in higher regard than this one. As the trail follows the Rio Grande, passing through some of Albuquerque’s best sights, setting out along the Paseo del Bosque is the perfect way to explore the city.
Ideal for both hiking and biking, with horseback riders, joggers and skaters also using the trail, the Bosque (pronounced boss-key) as it’s known to locals, takes in some of the most impressive scenery in this region, with the added attraction of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each October, when a myriad of colourful hot air balloons fill the skies.
From the north to the south of the city, the trail cuts through cottonwood bosque forest, which gives the trail its name, and passes the Rio Grande Valley State Park, Rio Grande Nature Center, Albuquerque Biological Park and the National Hispanic Cultural Center, as well as areas exhibiting public art.
Start your journey from one of the route’s trailheads. By setting off from the Almeda trailhead (by Almeda Boulevard Bridge), wildlife sightings are within easy reach at the nearby Almeda Wetlands, and there’s a shaded area for picnickers.
The trailhead at Pueblo Montao, off Montao Road, also has a picnic area, as well as wood carvings in the trees that were burnt in the 2003 bosque fires.
The Campbell Road trailhead is situated near Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, which alone covers a staggering 270 acres of woodland, meadows and farmland. No bikes can be left here so go on foot, and perhaps time your visit with one of the centre’s guided bird or nature walks. There are even twilight treks to see the nocturnal wildlife come out from hiding. In the visitor centre, wander through exhibits on the surrounding environment, and pick up a park trail guide and binoculars.
From the city’s Central Avenue Bridge, it’s just a short walk to Tingley Beach. Here, take the time to follow the Tingley Beach public art walking route, or alternatively take a longer public art tour by bike.
Hikers and bikers can reach the National Hispanic Cultural Center by following the trail south from Marquez Street. The cultural centre aims to promote Hispanic arts and culture through exhibitions, performances and workshops. Stop by the restaurant and bar M’tucci’s Cocina Grill for Nuevo Latino cuisine and cocktails. But by heading north from the trailhead at Marquez Street, visitors reach Albuquerque BioPark, which encompasses a zoo, a botanic garden with Japanese Garden, Desert Conservatory and Butterfly Pavilion among its exhibits, and Tingley Beach.
October is considered the most rewarding time to visit, when the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place, transforming the city’s skies with hundreds of colourful hot air balloons. Inaugurated in 1972, the festival is now the largest worldwide, drawing in people from across the globe. Each day starts early with dawn flights followed by performances and events. Rainbow Ryders offer hot air balloon rides during the festival, as well as throughout the rest of the year. And real ballooning enthusiasts can stop by the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, which tells the story of balloon aviation from its beginnings in 1783 to the present day. Group tours are led around the exhibits, and alongside hot air balloon souvenirs, the museum’s shop sells products made by artists from around New Mexico.
To navigate the Paseo del Bosque trail and its sites by bicycle, hire a bike from Routes Bicycle Tours, or sign up for their daily two-hour bicycle bosque tour, which introduces riders to the flora and fauna of the region, as well as the historic and cultural landmarks along the way. The Stables at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa also offer two-hour trail rides each morning and evening.
For a coffee break midway, seek out Old Town Farm where Bike-In Coffee is situated. Only open to cyclists and pedestrians, each Saturday and Sunday, the farm serves up food as well as coffee, with quiches, salads and soups made from the farm’s own produce. Old Town Farm lies just off the I-40 Trail.
With so much to see along the way, set aside plenty of time to explore the trail’s attractions and natural environment, whether that’s on foot, two wheels or on horseback.
Are you planning a trip to Albuquerque? Our flights with Delta make it easy to explore the Paseo del Bosque.
Have you hiked or biked along the Paseo del Bosque? What were your personal highlights? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Lauren Hill