Hills - The Sandia Mountain foothills and the Cibola National Forest extend down through Albuquerque, giving the city some incredible open space. There are plenty of options for riding in both the north and south foothills. We found that our personal favorite tails are all found in Placitas and the Elena Gallegos Open Space. We usually like to start at the “free” Bear Canyon parking lot and ride the Elena Gallegos Main Loop up to the trailhead of the Pino Trail. The trail system here is pretty extensive bikes are allowed on all the trails in the open space but not in the National Forest Trails. I highly recommend the REI MTB Project app for this area, as it will really help you stay on course for the loop. There’s is endless ways you can ride here and the majority of the riding is intermediate with some technical chunky sections along 230A which we most times skip for a faster smoother downhill.
Just a short drive from Abq on I-25 is the small town of Placitas. This is home to our favorite bike trail in the area. The Bobsled is a 2 mile downhill section with jumps, bumps, and burms it's really the only trail in the Abq area with multiple small built features throughout. There are other trails in the Placitas area but we just prefer to lap the Bobsled a few times. If your rig can handle a little bit of off roading you can drive the Forest Road 445 and park here and begin the Bobsled descent or you can head to the Piedra Lisa Canyon trail head for some serenity at the end of FR445. Take into account in the warm months that you can. and will come encounter Rattlesnakes we've seen our fair share out here and for some reason they love to be in the middle of the trail. So ride and hike with caution especially in the cooler parts of the day.
On another note both areas are great areas to post up in the van for the day while in Albuquerque. Elena G is the only place that you have to pay but it's only $1 on weekdays and $2 on weekends for entry. There are BBQs and picnic areas throughout and the views of the Sandia Mountains are a nice treat. There are tons of hiking trails in the open spaces and in the National Forest that neighbors them. I recommend Domingo Baca Canyon or the Pino Trail for a nice day hike from Elena G. In our opinion this is your best bet for biking, hiking, and a good place to post up for the day in Albuquerque, I’m not sure what would happen if they locked your car in overnight but the space does close at dusk.
Mountains - Just a short drive up Interstate 40 will bring you to more advanced riding. There are a few options but in my mind there’s really only two. The Sandia Ski Area trails or the Cedro Peak trails. On some summers the ski area does run the lift for downhill mountain biking but I would check before heading up. If the lifts are not running you can do a challenging climb up the King of the Mountain Trail and enjoy a well earned fast and flowy descent down Golden Eagle. On south side of I-40 is the the Cedro Peak trails which are closer to Albuquerque than heading to the Ski Area, but they are not our favorite trails. This is a very chunky and bumpy area and the descents to me aren’t very exciting. I’ve ridden a few trails out here and the best is Otero Canyon, but it is short and sweet. If you are looking for a work out try the West Figure 8. We aren’t the best bikers and we like to stay in the intermediate realm and some of the trails here were a bit too challenging and chunky for our hardtails.
River - The Rio Grande Bosque is another anice open space in Albuquerque along the Rio Grande River. However off road trails in this area are not the best. There is a good amount of short flat single tracks through here, but nothing to write home about. In my opinion this area is very underdeveloped and I wished the city of Abq would develop a nice open space park like the Valmont Bikepark in Boulder here in this area. The trails in the Bosque are sandy and not my first option or my last. These trails are more for family rides with kids on the paved Bosque bike trail. There are some fast flowy sections but they don't last too long. Hopefully in the future this area will be developed better for outdoor recreation.