The Cienega Nature Trail is a short 0.2-mile wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail with enough beauty and value that it has been designated as a National Recreation Trail. While this trail won't provide you and your pup a lot of exercise, it's a great place to come take a quick break and learn more about the area's natural history using the interpretive signs posted around the trail. It's also a great option for dogs with limited mobility.
The Cienega Nature Trail is located right off of a picnic area and trailheads to longer trails. If you and your dogs are looking for a longer hike, the out-and-back
Cienega Trail (Forest Service Trail #148) will give you an additional three-to-four-hour
hike (do note that Cienega Trail #148 is rugged single track and ascends 1735 feet in its 2.2
miles). It crosses and connects with several other trails for even longer routes. The trailhead to Cienega Trail #148 is just across the picnic area from the interpretive trail.
The Cienega Canyon Picnic Site and Interpretive Trail is located off of Highway 536, which winds past several additional trailheads all the way to its endpoint at Sandia Crest, a popular local vista point. The mountain has a wide range of wild scenery. Wildlife that make the Sandia Mountains home include mule deer, black bears, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and several species of squirrels.
The Cienega Nature Trail crosses wooden bridges to an alpine meadow. Tall trees provide greenery and shade along the way. At this
elevation, Ponderosa pine and oak dominate. If you continue further up
the mountain, you'll note more of a mixture of conifers, including
spruce and fir. The result is a cornucopia of scents pleasing to both
canines and humans. This is a great place for any dog or human to come be refreshed by wild nature.