The Elena Gallegos Open Space / North Foothills is part of the Sandia Mountain foothill trail network. It consists of smooth and technical sections, thus ideal for intermediate riders looking to have fun while horning their biking skills. The section close to the parking area is pretty smooth and easy for all skill levels. Until you advance to the further half of the loop is when you encounter the trail’s technicalities. The multi-use trail can get packed with different users, including hikers, joggers, and horses, especially when the weather is nice.
The Elena Gallegos Open Space / North Foothills runs counter-clockwise from the Cottonwood Springs parking lot. Head north from the parking lot and take the most used trail. Ride up to the first wilderness sign, take a left turn, then ride along the edge of the high desert development.
Keep riding on the main trail towards the Sandia Crest until you pass the moderately rocky section. Ride to the 305 and 365 trails junction and continue straight on 305. You will come by smooth singletrack that leads to the mountains. It sweeps into and out of shallow ravines and runs over ridges. Ride onto the gravel road, cross it and make a right turn at the bottom of the downhill at 305a.
Trails 305a, 342, and 341 will get you to the Pino trailhead that leads to the Sandia Wilderness. Each of the trails is less than half a mile.
The first technical challenge of the trail is a few miles on the left of the 341 trail. It is a series or large rocks or boulders. We recommend skipping this bit if you are a complete beginner. The trail smoothens out after a few descents and climbs. Turn left at the next wilderness trailhead and go down the rocky downhill to join trail 365. Follow trail 365 back to the parking lot.
The best feature on the Elena Gallegos Open Space / North Foothills trail is the Elena Gallegos picnic area where you can stop to rest and have a bite or drinks.
On the Elena Gallegos Open Space / North Foothills trail has several scenic views that make the moderately technical ride worthwhile. You can see Mt. Taylor to the west, Tijeras Arroyo to the South, and Jemez Mt. to the north.
You will be surrounded by various interesting plant species, including; blue grama grass, soapweed yucca, cactus, bear grass, scrub oak, and cane cholla. You may also spot rat nests under the juniper trees on the trail, bears, cougars, and coyotes.