FR 542 - Cibola National Forest

Tijeras, New Mexico (Bernalillo County)

Last Updated: 04/30/2022
5 / 5 ( 6 reviews )
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Highlight: FR 542 - Cibola National Forest
Forest Road 542 is located in the Manzanita Mountains south of Interstate 40 within the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Just under 15 minutes from Albuquerque, this trail, which is part of the Manzanita Mountains Trail System provides an opportunity to quickly get out of the city and into nature without much fuss. FR542 is relatively easy to traverse and perfect for someone wanting to ease into off-roading and learn to use their 4WD vehicle; however, it also offers optional challenges, including a set of 12”-18” shelves off to the side of one section of the trail for the more adventurous wheeler. The Manzanita Mountains Recreation Zone doesn’t have an amenity fee and is open year-round. With trails for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, OHV riding and motorized vehicle use, along with camping, picnic sites and beautiful views from within a fresh pine forest, this area has something for everyone. The Manzanitas Mountains are adjacent to the Manzano Mountain Wilderness. Manzanita is Spanish for “little apple.” The village of Manzano (apple), as well as the mountains, got their name from explorers in the 1700s who noticed very old apple trees growing there – a curiosity to them as apple trees are not native to this country.


Route Information

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1. South Trailhead (0 mi)
Immediately upon turning left onto Juan Tomas Road, you will see the Forest Service sign for Cedro Peak Campground. The trailhead is on your left in .2 miles (350 yards).

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Albuquerque

South end: From the west (Albuquerque), drive east on I-40 and exit at Exit 175. Take a right at the bottom of the off-ramp and drive south for approximately 5 miles on NM 337 a.k.a. James McGrane Memorial Highway. Look for the Juan Tomas/242 sign on the east side of the road. Turn left and the trailhead is .1 miles on your left. The South end of Forest Rd. 542 is 5.1 miles from Tijeras, NM. North end: From the west (Albuquerque), drive East on I-40 and exit at Exit 175. At the bottom of the ramp there is a traffic light. Continue straight through the light on NM 337 for 5 miles. Turn left on Juan Thomas Rd. for 0.5 miles. Turn left onto Forest Rd. 252 for 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Forest Rd. 542. The North end of Forest Rd. 542 is 7.2 miles from Tijeras, NM.



Land Use Issues

Trail Reviews (7)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Looking to explore this trail while we are visiting in December. Haven't done in OHV trails in a National Park. Where would I purchase the needed permit/pass?
–Shane Holdcraft (11/14/2018)
–Tracy Barker (11/17/2018)

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.
For individual use only, not to be shared.