Piedra Lisa Trail North – 05/21/2023

Another revisit to Placitas Trails with Jay, rekindling good memories – and enjoying the hikes. For our most recent hike, we intended to do Piedra Lisa but did NoName and Quartz Outcrop – this trip we made it to Piedra Lisa.

The Drive In

Meeting in the parking lot for Placitas Cafe, we drove east on NM 165, 8/10th of a mile to the turnoff for the Strip Mine Trail, also Forest Loop Road 445. Then on FR 445 for 1.65 miles, turning left to parking for the Piedra Lisa – North Trailhead. 

The Hike

Notes about the Google Earth screenshot: the graph at the bottom shows elevation of the track (pink area) and speed (the blue line).

‘Tho we’ve hiked the Piedra Lisa trail numerous times before, looking over those posts I see that I didn’t leave much of a description. So …

There are two parking areas, one shortly after turning left from the approach road from FR 445, and a second circular parking area. We parked under a tree before the circle, , then started out on a trail that beckoned us. But … it soon became clear that the -real- trailhead was off to our right, and from that 1st parking area – thus the dog leg on our GPS track.

From the trailhead, the trail proceeds up a wide sandy bottom of the Piedra Lisa Cañon. The northern end of the Sandia Mountains are in full view ahead of us. At 1/3rd mile, the trail climbs to the left, up above some sections of the cañon with high rock “steps” that would be difficult to get over. Another 1/3rd of a mile the trail descends back into the bottom of the cañon then up on the edge for another 2/10th mile. All along, the trail is well used and easy to follow and trek upon.

The trail climbs gradually for its full length, reaching a somewhat level spot which happens to be the junction with the Agua Sarca trail. This makes a nice stopping point for a mid-hike break, and for us the turn-around point for the day’s hike. ‘Tho the trail is in the cañon for a better part of this section, there are some opportunities for great views – the north end of the Sandia Mountains at the start of the hike, and across the Rio Grande Valley and on to Mesa Prieta and Cabezon north of Mount Taylor. And .. ’tis spring so flowers are showing their finest – Apache Plume for example.

Jay here: Still nursing an MCL sprain, I wanted to keep the hike under 4 miles. Lucky to have brought hiking poles — the trip back down on scree can be very hairy if you don’t have full faith in one of the knees.


Revisiting old friends, Jay and the Piedra Lisa Trail.


Total Distance: 3.62 miles
Elevation: start  6,026 ft, maximum  7,040 ft,  minimum  6,021 ft
Gross gain:  1,019 ft.  Aggregate ascending  1,342 ft, descending  1,344 ft
Maximum slope: 52% ascending, 54% descending, 12.6% average
Duration: 2:44

GPS Track Files for Download
If you haven’t explored these hiking tracks with Google Earth, I urge you to try it. With the virtual 3-dimensional presentation, achieved by panning and tilting the view, you can get a much better idea of the hikes and terrain than you can get from the screenshot above. For some ideas, check out  Using Google Earth Track Files.

Related Posts

Piedra Lisa Hikes
Placitas Area Hikes

References and Resources

USDA Forest Service: Placitas Area Trail System (pdf map)
                                         Sandia Mountain Trails (pdf map)
     Piedra Lisa North Spring Trail
     Piedra Lisa Trail and Del Agua Trail Loop
     Best Trails in Placitas
ondafringe: North Piedra Lisa/Del Agua Loop
ASCHG: Piedra Lisa North to South
Hiking Project:
     Placitas – a good directory and map
     Piedra Lisa Trail #135
SummitPost: Piedra Lisa Canyon
Trailforks: Placitas Mountain Biking Trails – a good map of the trails thereabouts
GAIA: Piedra Lisa Trail

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