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The Albuquerque Hiking and Outdoor Meetup Message Board › Sandia Peak Wilderness Group Size Restrictions-Order # 03-0422: If you are l

Sandia Peak Wilderness Group Size Restrictions-Order # 03-0422: If you are leading hikes in the Sandias you need to read this

Doug F.
user 6912108
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 61
I know, here we go again about group sizes... but after receiving a letter, from the New Mexico Mountain Club, regarding a new directive from the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest, thought it was pertinent enough to post a new message. If you lead hikes in the Sandias get familiar with the new guidelines regarding group sizes, as you can be fined substantially, up to $10,000, if caught: ignorance is not an excuse. Be aware that members from the Sandia Ranger District do occasionally view and monitor our website. Anyway, I noticed that a number of hikes that our group is sponsoring are violating the new directive, as group size limits are 10 people in the semi-primitive areas (some or all of the following trails are partially or totally in the semi-primitive zone: TWA, Pino, Embudo, Embudito, South Peak, Domingo Baca, Chimney Canyon, Juan Tabo Canyon, Del Agua, and a few more). I suggest checking out the PDF link to the new order and studying the map before opening your hike to large groups with more than 10 people. You can read order number 03-0422 and see the map with the different zones by clicking the following link: http://prdp2fs.ess.us...­
Keith F.
user 6193988
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 82
Thanks, Doug. It would have been nice of the forest service to broadcast this a little better. Good of you to look out for all of us.
Dave G.
user 7994205
Cedar Crest, NM
Post #: 22
The only trail on the west side that is not covered besides foothills hikes is the La Luz (not the 'old La Luz'). On the east side are more choices limited only to 25, including Treespring, 10K all the way to Ellis (but not to Del Agua Overlook), the Armijo/Faulty/Cienega loop, Oso Corridor, etc. Always consult the map in Doug's link, but there are still some hikes appropriate for a larger group.

This order only applies to the Sandias, but we should apply common sense to aim for low impact on all our outings.
A former member
Post #: 8
The only trail on the west side that is not covered besides foothills hikes is the La Luz (not the 'old La Luz'). On the east side are more choices limited only to 25, including Treespring, 10K all the way to Ellis (but not to Del Agua Overlook), the Armijo/Faulty/Cienega loop, Oso Corridor, etc. Always consult the map in Doug's link, but there are still some hikes appropriate for a larger group.

This order only applies to the Sandias, but we should apply common sense to aim for low impact on all our outings.

Thanks for the La Luz clarification - do you know if Tramway Trail #82 considered a foothill's trail?
Robin T.
user 13098796
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 9
Wow.... this is rough. I had no idea they were really going to make such restrictions.

Piedra Lisa, LaLuz, and Tramway trails look like they are limited to 25 people, from the way I am reading this. But pretty much ever other trail that I hike regularly is NOW affected by the 10 person limit.

I really don't understand the reasoning for this, but I guess I will be following it.
Keith F.
user 6193988
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 83
Folks we need to read this order carefully. I believe the La Luz is not exempted. Only the annual La Luz Trail Run. It is, however in the transition area with a limit of 25. Also, most of the Piedra Lisa is under the 10 person limit. There is a lot trail on the east side that is outside the wilderness and therefore not covered at all. There is a much smaller amount of trail that is in the transition area but that scares me given it is hard to tell the boundary unless they are putting up signs. Some of the Tramway trail is outside the Wilderness and the part inside it appears to be all within the 25 person limit which I think is a very large number.

Robin, my opinion of the Wilderness limits is that it preserves the feeling of being in a wilderness. Encountering a group of 30 people detracts from the experience. I also feel, though that a group of 8 or 10 that is talking away constantly is a detractor for me. Makes it hard to hear the birds or the wind in the aspens. Of course, allowing people to fire automatic weapons in the Ojito Wilderness is the biggest detractor that I could possibly imagine. I don't quite buy the idea that 2 groups of 10, hiking 15 minutes apart, have less impact on the environment than one group of 20 that are spread out anyway. That said, it's really hard for me to think of the Sandia's as wilderness, which may be what you're thinking.

I love the way the boundary is drawn in Embudito Canyon where the trail goes in and out of the semi-primitive area. Take a group of 25 and each time you come to the semi-primitive area you split into 3 groups, wait 15 minutes between each one, then regroup for another 200 yards before repeating the process. A little too much Tequila for the planning session, I would say.
Dave G.
user 7994205
Cedar Crest, NM
Post #: 23
Keith,
Look at the map again. The La Luz trail is indeed outside the "semi-primitive" area (there is a corridor around the trail). The trail run is exempted from the 25 person limit.

Another thing for everyone to note is that this ordinance is still in the very early stages of being implemented. Looking at the "Assessment of Need and Enforcement" page, they haven't even dated that they have 'posted' the order (step 3). In their lingo, 'posted' is not the same thing as "putting up posters"). Notifying the public and doing what you and I might think of as 'posting' (tacking it up at trailheads) doesn't happen until step 6.

So, its still coming, but there is a reason no one has heard of it yet and there is no need for anyone to worry that they almost got a $10,000 fine on a recent hike.

In the mean time, lets all go enjoy our last month or two of the Sandias before they close again due to fire restrictions - in reasonably sized groups, of course.
Keith F.
user 6193988
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 84
I spoke to Lisa Jones, NFS ranger, yesterday and she did not have a time frame yet for when they will start enforcing the limits. She promised to let me know when she has the info.
Robin T.
user 13098796
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 10
Thanks Keith. I am going to restrict my groups now regardless. I don't need the hassle or worry.
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