The Mountains of New Mexico
Cedro Peak • Manzano Mountains
• Cibola National Forest
• Bernalillo County

Cedro Peak

As seen from my car

Halfway up

North, Sandia Range. Note
the dramatic uplift pattern

Northeast view, more peaks

South view, Manzano Range

Tower and summit views

Date: July 28, 2023 • Elevation: 7,767 feet • Prominence: 387 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 45 minutes • Gain: 407 feet • Conditions: Warm and sunny

New MexicoPB

Cedro (Cedar in English) Peak is a bump on a ridge at the north end of the Manzano (Apple) Mountains east of Albuquerque. A lookout tower and a communications tower are on its summit, with a good road that gets close, leaving a short walk to the very top.

I was driving to Albuquerque and had split up the drive with a few hikes. Earlier today, I hiked El Cerro de Los Lunas and Cerro El Tomé, both about an hour's drive to the south in the town of Los Lunas. When I was done with those, it was still early, about 10 a.m., and my hotel in Albuquerque would not be ready for a few more hours. So I sat in a Starbucks in Los Lunas and looked up other possible peaks to hike to use up the time.

I wanted something easily accessible by road, not too far off my main route, and preferably with a trail or road to avoid off-trail hiking in this warm, snakey weather. Cedro Peak met every condition. I saved some maps onto my phone and headed north from Los Lunas to hike it.

I followed Interstate-25 into Albuquerque, then Interstate-40 east and up toward the pass that separates the Sandia Mountains to the north and the Manzano Mountains to the south. I exited onto state route NM-337 in the town of Tijeras, and followed the road south for a few miles, turning left onto Juan Tomás Road (Cibola Forest Road 242), which was paved. I followed this for about a mile, then turned left (north) onto FR-252, signed for the Cedro Peak Campground about a mile and a half ahead. FR-252 was gravel, but wide and smooth and a very gentle grade. I rolled into the campground, but it was gated shut and vacant. So I parked under a tree in the small clearing in front of one of the gates.

It was about noon now, and I was at 7,350 feet elevation, give or take. But even this high, it was warm, but not uncomfortable, about 80°. There were a few clouds but nothing menacing yet. I got my boots back on and tried on my new camo-colored butt pack for this short hike. I could easily see the top and its towers from where I parked.

The hiking route is the remainder of the road to the top. The road is decent, a few erosion ruts, but most cars would be fine on it (by "most cars", I mean a real car, not one of those two-inch clearance things that sound like lawn mowers). The road is gated about halfway up, however, there are no restrictions against hikers. The fencing beside the gate only extends a few feet, easily bypassed.

I was on top the peak about twenty minutes after starting, a mile hike one way with a little over 400 feet of elevation gain. The top has been flattened to make room for the buildings, which are substantial. The lookout was manned and I could hear talking up there, so I did not bother to climb the stairs. His truck was parked nearby.

I walked the perimeter the top for images and to step on any highpoints. The highest point is likely some rise abutting the buildings. I stepped on what I could. Nothing inside the fencing looked any better. The views were good, with the bigger Manzano peaks visible about twenty miles south. Looking north, I had an excellent view of the Sandia Mountains massif and its tremendous uplifted profile. Facing east, it's all one long slope, and facing west, dramatic cliffs. To the northeast were more hills, these with some cloud build-up above them. I wandered about the top for ten minutes.

I hiked down the road back to my car, a round trip of about 45 minutes. Back at my car, with no compulsion to get a move-on, I relaxed in the front seat and tried to nap. With the sun-shade up and the windows down, and an occasional breeze, it was very comfortable and relaxing.

Soon, another vehicle rolled in — another Soob Forester — and it/they/he parked under another tree. Then I heard footsteps and panting. It was a guy with his doggie. They walked down to a ramada on the campground and played fetch about a half hour. The dog has trained its human well. Then they came back and the dog was full of energy, running and panting all over the place. It was clearly a very good dog. Then they got moving, so it was just me again. I walked to the ramada too afterwards.

I stayed here about an extra 90 minutes. I drove back out the same roads to Tijeras, but instead of the interstate, I followed the old Route-66 alignment, now a frontage, down off the mountain and into Albuquerque. The road merges with the interstate anyway, but the first chance I had, I re-exited back onto the old US-66 alignment, now called Central Avenue, which is a main boulevard in south Albuquerque. Since I still had time to burn, I was fine to drive this road and its stop lights, and sight-see.

My hotel was in Old Town, in downtown Albuquerque, and Central would take me right to it. On the southeast side, it was kind of scraggly, with boarded-up buildings and a lot of homeless. Closer to downtown, it got better as I passed by the university. Downtown itself was tricky because the roads are narrow, lanes disappear and there were roundabouts that were not signed which road was what, so I had to guess (some would have five or six exit options, like spokes on a wheel).It was hot, too, about 103° said my car's temperature apparatus. I was getting ripe by now, so I was happy to finally get to my hotel to shower and nap briefly.

(c) 2023 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.