Posts Tagged ‘Piedra Lisa Spring Trail’

Sunday promises to be clear, cool and breezy as we head for the Piedra Lisa Spring Trailhead. We’re not alone. The parking lot is close to full.

Piedra Lisa (it means smooth stone) is a fairly steep trail, gaining 1200’ in about two miles. This does not stop the large number of families we see as the trail begins but after about the first half mile we find we’ve got the trail to ourselves. On the lower trail, cholla are in magenta bloom. As we head up Juan Tabo Canyon two types of Prickly Pear are flowering, one low runners with yellow or apricot blooms, the other with larger pads, its edges studded with bright yellow blossoms. Higher up we reach piñon/juniper forest dotted with the occasional douglas-fir and white fir. Gambel oaks cast mottled shade; the Fendlerbush is almost done flowering. The smokelike seed banners of Mountain Mahogany wave in the breeze.  Scarlet Claret Cups bloom.

Farther on we get great views of granite formations on the Sandias’ western face—the Shield, Needle, Prow and the UNM Spire, and panoramic views west toward the city. The trail itself reflects its Sandia geology, pulverized weathered sandy granite overlaying a smooth granite base. Heading up is slippery, coming down is treacherously slippery.

In a flash of color we spot a Western Tanager in the tree tops—almost tropical with its red head, yellow breast and black wings with white wing bars. He and his less showy olive-colored mate eat insects in a dead piñon. As birds often seem to do, he approaches and sits in direct sun, as though to encourage a positive ID.

At a snack break we watch red breasted nuthatches work their way down the tree trunks, snatching whatever little morsels they can find.

Winded but at the top close to the trail’s halfway point, we reach the Rincon Ridge. From the ridge we have a spectacular northeast view toward Placitas, where the trail ends at its northern terminus, after plunging down steeply into Del Agua Canyon and into the sandy box canyon below.

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