Chamisoso Canyon

Tijeras, New Mexico (Bernalillo County)

Last Updated: 06/18/2018
5/5 (3 reviews)
Nearby Trails
Status: Temporary Closure
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 2-2
Length: 5.95 miles
Highest Elevation: 6997 feet
Duration: About 40 minutes
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Tijeras
Nearest Town w/ Services: Cedar Crest
Official Road Name: 462
Management Agency: National Forest Service
District: Sandia Ranger District, Cibola National Forest
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles


Highlight: Chamisoso Canyon

The Manzanita Mountains Trail System provides access to a number of wooded canyons, open meadows and limestone pavements in a multi-use area consisting of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, OHV and 4WD use trails. The towers atop the 7,767-foot Cedro Peak are visible for miles and they provide an easy point of reference as you explore a landscape where high mountain desert meets forest - pinon pine, juniper, and cedar coexist with yucca, cholla and prickly pear cacti. Within 15 minutes of Albuquerque and easy access to the clean air of the Cibola National Forest, this trail a natural destination for offroad enthusiasts.



7 day forecast for Chamisoso Canyon

Route Information

Technical Rating: 2-2

Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 8" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 9" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 12" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep but with good traction.

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FR462 is an easy, hard packed dirt surface with seasonal ruts and loose rock suitable for most high clearance vehicles. Rain or snow may make 4WD necessary. At six miles in length, Forest Road 462 is the longest 4WD trail in the Manzanita Mountains Trail System and it intersects with two others, FR12 and FR13.
Starting about 0.6 miles north of the intersection of FR462 and FR12 and heading toward the east trailhead, there is a great deal of private land on both sides of the trail and some of the drives leading to properties are not posted. Stay on the trail and use the motor vehicle usage map (MVUM) of the Manzanita Mountains Trail System while out exploring. Although the Sandia Ranger District does not have fixed seasonal closures set for the Manzanita Mountains Trail System, occasionally temporary closures are issued after periods of heavy rain or during the spring snowmelt and for fire restrictions. Contact the Sandia Ranger District before you go to make sure that no temporary closures are in place. Phone: 505-281-3304


1. West FR462 Trailhead (Chamisoso Canyon Road)

Heading east off of NM 337 onto a well maintained gravel segment, FR462 is immediately flanked on both sides with parking areas. This is a popular spot for ATVs, cyclists and hikers to stage and head out from. There is an ATV bypass, 05617, accessible from the south lot that allows all-terrain vehicles to skip 0.75 miles of smooth gravel surface and come out at Waypoint #4, a little way into the true offroad part of FR462. The lower trailhead for the 05543 Powerline hiking trail can also be accessed here.

2. Coyote Trailhead Facility (0.7 mi)

On the north side of the trail, there is a parking area that was constructed by the Sandia Ranger District to stage motorized expeditions. The Coyote hiking trailhead is here and the facility has vault toilets, posted information and sitting areas with picnic tables.

3. 05620 Coyote Chamisoso Link Trailhead (0.76 mi)

This trail links the Coyote and Chamisoso trails designated for hiking, biking, motorcycles and horses. This is also the point where the well-maintained gravel portion of FR462 ends and offroading begins.

4. 05617 ATV Bypass - Upper Trailhead (0.8 mi)

This is the point where the ATV bypass from the lower parking lot meets FR462.

5. 462DC1 Motorized Dispersed Camping Spur (0.97 mi)

This is the only authorized camping area along FR462. There are two discrete motorized spots on this spur so you might have a neighbor.

6. Cedro Tower Fire Line (1.1 mi)

This is a great place to stop and take in the view. To the south you can look up the fire break and see the Cedro fire lookout tower and to the north, the east side of the Sandia Mountains and Tijeras Canyon.

7. 05620 Coyote Chamisoso Link (1.17 mi)

Here the Coyote Chamisoso Link crosses FR462. It's designated for hiking, biking, horseback and motorcycle use only.

8. Trailhead 05851 Coyote Split (2.1 mi)

This trail connects FR462 to the Coyote Trail below. It's designated for hiking, biking, horseback and motorcycle use only.

9. Intersection with FR13 and 05619 Coyote (3 mi)

To the south, FR13 heads up towards Cedro Peak. To the north, the upper terminus of the Coyote trail. Head east to stay on FR462.

10. Intersection with FR12 (3.1 mi)

To the south, FR12 meanders through meadows as it heads up to meet the Meadow Ridge Trail. Bear left (north) to follow FR462.

11. Lower Pine 05606 Trailhead and Parking Area (5.8 mi)

At the bottom of the hill there is a large parking/staging area and the entrance to the Lower Pine hiking trail.

12. East Trailhead - Campo Road (5.9 mi)

At the end of the trail, there is a stop sign at Campo Road. Bearing left here (west) and taking a left on Liebre Road will take you back out to old Route 66 (NM 333).

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 35.063090, -106.381450

Starting Point: Albuquerque

West Trailhead: From the west (Albuquerque), drive east on I-40 and take Exit 175 south to NM 337. At the bottom of the ramp, there is a traffic light. Continue straight through the light on NM 337 for 1.3 miles. Turn left on Chamisoso Canyon Road/FR462. East Trailhead:From the west (Albuquerque), drive east on I-40 and take Exit 175 north to NM 14 and Cedar Crest. At the top of the ramp go east towards Cedar Crest for 0.6 miles. Stay right at the light on Route 66/HWY333 for 2.6 miles. Turn right onto Bartolo Baca Road for 250 ft. Turn right onto Kennedy Lane for 0.7 miles. Turn right onto Forest Road (Campo Road) for 0.3 miles. Turn right onto Forest Rd. 462 for 0.2 miles and a staging area will be on your left. Continue straight to start the trail. The east trailhead is 4.3 miles from Tijeras, NM.



Motorized dispersed camping is allowed on the 462DC1 spur. There are a couple of good spots here with adequate space for vehicles and enough brush in between them for a little bit of privacy. Other motorized dispersed camping areas nearby are along FR242 (242DC1 spur) and FR542 (542DC1, 542DC2, 542DC3, and 542DC4. spurs). Cedro group campground, along FR252, can be reserved at

Camping: Chamisoso Canyon

Writer Information

Scott Mitchell

Mapping Crew - New Mexico

Scott Mitchell is a Personal Defense and Defensive Tactics Instructor in Albuquerque. A New Mexico native, Scott lives in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, adjacent to the Sandia Mountain Wilderness Area in the Cibola National Forest. Scott likes to get out at every opportunity to explore his state's off-road trails. As a Trailsoffroad contributor, his goal is to find and share as much reliable information as possible to help others navigate and enjoy the great New Mexico outdoors.


Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Does this trail require any permits?
–Derek (12/14/2018)
A: Hi Derek. No, it does not require a permit. It is currently under a temporary closure, as are the other trails in the Tijeras area.
–Scott Mitchell (12/15/2018)
Q: Is the trail still closed??
–Hayden (07/10/2018)
A: Update: As of 7/13/2018 the trails in this area have reopened.
–Scott Mitchell (07/17/2018)
A: Yes, it's still under Stage 3 Fire Restrictions. Hopefully we'll get some rain there soon and it will reopen.
–Scott Mitchell (07/11/2018)

Trail Reviews (12)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
A scenic drive that's perfect for a quick getaway from normal life. Perfect for a beginner who is learning their skills, but also a nice scenic change of pace for a more experienced driver. FR12 and FR13 intersect with this trail and are definitely recommended for those wanting a little more challenge, but even staying on this trail presents a little challenge to newbies.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This is a great trail for a beginner. Although I would highly recommend driving it in a high clearance 4x4 vehicle. My stock wrangler JK unlimited had no problem. The trail is very rocky with some pretty large rocks. Just take it slow. I can imagine in rain or right after the trail could be difficult.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Crisp, clear, and sunny February day in NM. This is an easy trail that's super close to Albuquerque and the views are outstanding.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The road was dry and the rocks seemed a bit more exposed than a couple of months ago. Also drove FR 13. Did the whole drive in 2wd but I have 37" tires. Mud and snow really change the dynamic of the roads there.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The road was dry and the rocks seemed a bit more exposed than a couple of months ago. Also drove FR 13. Did the whole drive in 2wd but I have 37" tires. Mud and snow really change the dynamic of the roads there.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Road was a lot of fun. Very dry and rutted. I'm not the most experienced, but I believe some of the ruts were easily 12-18 inches, and represented a real risk of high centering. Trail description says 1-3 easy, but based upon the ruts, I'd have to rate it a 4-5, especially if any mud is present.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Was fun I hit this trail every weekend really really dry at the moment I recommend this trail bring water trail is way but can test your limits

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Went up the trail a couple of days after thanksgiving. Weather was beautiful, sunny with a slight chill in the mountains. Trail was muddy in some areas and had a couple of rocky stretches. Overall was fun quick trail with some great views. Keep an eye out for pedestrians hiking on the path!

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
A really nice night in New Mexico, We hit the trail about 7:30PM and drove around the area. There were quite a few spots with some deep mud, with only 1 person in the group getting stuck. A great short trip at night with a view of Albuquerque from the top.

Status: Closed
Offroaded on:
Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 9, 2016 – A Closure Order has been issued for several roads on the Sandia Ranger District. These closures are necessary to protect natural resources and provide for public safety. The roads are highly susceptible to damage during the winter months. The closure will remain in effect until May 31, 2016 or until rescinded, whichever occurs first. The following roads are closed: · National Forest System Road (NFSR) 462 from the Forest boundary on the east boundary of Sec 19 of T.10N., R.6E. to the Chamisoso Trailhead (T.10N., R.5E. Sec 26) · NFSR 252 from the Forest boundary (T.10N., R.6E. Sec 31) to the junction with NFSR 542 · NFSR 12 (T.10N., R.6E. Sec 30-32) · NFSR 13 (T.10N., R.6E. Sec 30-31 & T.10N., R.5E. Sec 36) · NFSR 542 (T.10N., R.5E. Sec 36 & T.9N., R.5E. Sec 1) · NFSR 445 (T.12N., R.4E. Sec 1-3 & 10-12) Please contact the Sandia Ranger District at 505-281-3304 if you have questions about the closures. For more information about Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands, please visit our website Follow the conversation at

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Went out with the New Mexico 4-Wheelers again to play in the snow. We had about a dozen vehicles to start. We met at the Tijeras Ranger Station. Just 100 yards off the pavement, the trail leader had traction issues when he stopped on a snow packed incline. He aired down his 37" Goodyear MTRs to 12psi and was able to continue. The KJ did not have so much luck with stock street tires and turned back home after being winched out of the ditch. The rest of the group continued on FR462 to the intersection of FR13. From there, the group split. One group tried the Meadow 2-Track Trail (FR 12) and I lead a group of five up Cedro Ridge 2-Track Trail (FR13). The plan was to meet back up along FR 13. Both groups encountered snow about 2' deep. I had to winch up the last big hill on Cedro Ridge due to the steep incline and poor traction. Chains would be a good idea. Both groups ended up turning back and we all continued to complete the Chamisoso Road Trail.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail was snow packed and icy today. Several climbs were very difficult due to ice on the trail. The snow depth was between 18 and 24 inches. We got a late start today and did not finish the route. We stopped to do some sledding in a clearing and ended up spending a couple hours playing there. Then we went up the trail a ways. The first climb past the Coyote Trail Head was very icy and took several try's to pass. I found myself sliding backwards while the wheels were still turning forward. We continued about 1/2 mile further and realized we were running out of daylight, so we decided to turn back. It was a fun day!