Amidst the scenic offerings of Cedar Crest, New Mexico, the South Mesa Loop Trail Network serves up a biking experience unlike any other. With two loop sections and a long, thrilling spur into a sprawling arroyo, this 8-mile trail network offers options for novice to intermediate riders. But what can you really expect from this less-talked-about trail?
To get to the trailhead, head north on Highway 14 from Cedar Crest. After passing the 550/Sandia Ski Area turnoff, make a left onto La Madera Road and continue for about 9 miles until you see a sign marked "Golden." Alternatively, further north, you can turn onto Puertocito Road and follow it for about 7 miles to reach the trail.
The trail consists of an upper loop friendly for novice riders and a long spur section best suited for intermediate cyclists. There are also a couple of dead-end spurs along the route that provide breathtaking overlooks.
While the loops themselves might not offer the same entertainment value as other famous trails, they are in excellent shape. The out-and-back sections and arroyo dives are real highlights, as is the engaging scenery that surrounds you. Particularly exciting is the loop at the southern end that offers views of stratified red rock walls reminiscent of Moab or Sedona.So is it worth the ride? Absolutely. The trail offers a variety of challenges, superb views, and a remote location that lets you escape the everyday grind. It's a circuit worth exploring at least once, if not multiple times, to discover all its nuances.