The Otero Canyon trail is a fantastic out-and-back trail for all biking skill levels. The loop trail is well-signed, and thus easy to follow. It is partly shaded and great in either direction. The trail features a smooth section, rock gardens, and a technical steep pitch near the canyon bottom. Its features are ideal for intermediate bikers. A biking novice would have a hard time navigating the difficult steep pitch that falls onto and out of the canyon bottom.
The Otero Canyon trail runs from north to south with the trailhead at the north end and the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) far south. It is a system of trails including Blue Ribbon trail, Gnasty trail and West ridge trail.
From the trailhead, you can choose either of the three directions;
If you ride the entire route, be careful not to cross the federal property. The trail’s first section is smooth and fast. You will encounter some rock gardens with a lot of loose rocks because heavy mountain bike use has left deep ruts on the trail. The most technical bit of the trail is a steep pitch right before it drops into and out of the Canyon bottom. The bottom of the Canyon has a natural shelf and old dam. The trail’s very bottom has easily flowing turns that work back and forth across the canyon, followed by a rocky, twisty section that leads back to the trailhead.
Further, the trail has many improvised trails that branch off without signs. We recommend staying on the paths that indicate the heaviest use to avoid getting lost.
The only interesting features on the Otero Canyon trail are the natural shelf and the old dam at the Canyon’s bottom. You will also come by the well-signed KAFB land. Be careful not to cross it.
As you ride east of the trail, you will get great views of the area. The Gnasty trail on the loop has the best views. The trees provide a natural, serene environment even though some of them won’t provide you with shade. You will see various bird species and squirrels scurrying off.