The UNM Geology & Environmental Science Club (GESC) is a student-run organization that shares a passion for rockhounding, exploring, and admiring geologic features, often while hiking around the state of New Mexico.
One of the group’s favored trails is the Embudito Canyon Loop, a local hike with beautiful views. It starts in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains and is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. The trail is a quick 14-mile drive from UNM Main Campus and most people report finishing the trail in under two hours and thirty minutes. It begins with two options, either with a valley of two hills or a steep climb. No matter which option you choose, you will get to experience incredible panoramic views of Albuquerque. Along the way, there will be many different overlooks where you can take a break and soak in the scenery. Much to the delight of the UNM GESC, there is the added bonus of a small rock cave, too!
Geologically speaking, scattered along the pathway and towering above the trail, you will encounter the magnificent Sandia granite. These metamorphic rocks are around 1.5 billion years old! They were formed over time due to lots of pressure and heat deep in the Earth’s mantle. Over time, these rocks were pushed upwards with the help of the Rio Grande Rift and slowly formed the Sandia Mountain range. When the potassium feldspar, a mineral that makes up the granite, reflects the setting sunlight, it will turn the Sandias a beautiful shade of watermelon pink – hence the name Sandia Mountains (Watermelon Mountains).
For this hike, we recommend that you wear sturdy hiking shoes because there are sections of trail with loose rocks to scramble up. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen because you will gain about approximately 1,204 ft. in elevation. If you would like to learn more about the hike, just follow the link to All Trails!
If you are interested in joining the UNM Geology & Environmental Science Club, learn more here.