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Level: Intermediate
Length: 5 mi (8 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +388/393 ft
Total: 56 riders
 

Mountain Biking Otero Canyon

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#41 of 280 mountain bike trails in New Mexico
#3009 in the world

This trail provides a fairly remote experience just a few minutes from the city. From the trailhead, you can head up the main draw, which is otero canyon, or head up the trail to the left that goes up on the ridge, or you can go a little way up the draw to a trail that takes off to the right which will ascend that ridge or continue on down to Tunnel Canyon. If you ride all the way to the top, beware of federal property. Even though higher in altitude, the ridges may melt out sooner than the canyon because they are exposed while the canyon gets less sun. The ridg on the right is very rocky and not always fun--it makes a better descent than climb. Otero Canyon proper is good either way. It is a reasonable climb up and can be very fast on the way down with a few opportunities for air. Check with the forest service on the way up for maps and conditions.

First added by John Fisch on May 11, 2020. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
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Getting there
Follow the directions to Tunnel Canyon. Follow the road about a mile past the pullout to Tunnel Canyon and you'll find the pullout to Otero Canyon on the right.
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DanK_NoCo (on Sep 13, 2019)
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Dry (on Sep 13, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Beginner | 8 mi

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Reviews

  • stumpyfsr   ✓ supporter
    ****

    This is a place for your granny gear. There're some portions of technical climbing. Otherwise it's a steady and reasonably steep climb. However as a reward you get a sweet downhill with many ledges to catch some decent air time. Or incorporate it into a loop with Tunnel, west ridge and birdhouse ridge. I'm glad I rode this trail and hope to come back again.

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  • stumpyfsr   ✓ supporter
    Reviewing West Ridge Trail:
    ****

    Hard to add anything besides what was said in a description for this trail. It's a rocky trail that gets slippery when wet. It's fun in both directions if you know how to handle a 3-mile long rock garden. And I love it

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  • Fatbike1
    *****

    Fun place to spend all day making your legs burn from the miles of single track in the area.

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  • Cory Ramey
    *****

    Ridden this trail many times. Our favorite in ABQ. You must visit this trail if you're in the area.

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  • MountainBikingViking
    *****

    Otero is always fun, always challenging. Plenty of technical options, and plenty of spatial challenges. the local club, FOOMTB keeps working with the NFS to build more trail in the area and maintain what was created there years ago.

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  • Nathanael Orona
    *****

    Otero Canyon trails are pretty awesome. There's plenty of climbing with some climbs being easy and others being fairly technical. The good news is that once the climbing is over with there's some amazing downhill. Because there are so many switchbacks on the downhill, it does take a while to get back down so it doesn't just fly by.

    A word of advice though: wait until the snow has melted in the area. Plenty of cliffs with downhill icy sections is a recipe for pain... or excitement if you're into that.

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  • skelldify
    Reviewing West Ridge Trail:
    ***

    I usually ride this one from N to S. Going this way, it starts with a really crappy, loose climb for 1/4 mile or so. Just when you're really hating it, you see the top.

    The rest of the trail is slightly uphill, with some fun techy climbs, and rock gardens.
    All of them are rideable if you have good skills. It's pretty fun from S to N too, but it takes the edge off a bit.

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  • skelldify
    ****

    Assuming this is the Otero Canyon Trail (05056), and not the area in general:

    Excellent downhill, with optional jumps here and there, and a few rock gardens to slow you down a little.

    Fun uphill as well.

    This is the "standard" trail for the area. Any time someone visits I take them on this. This is a rare trail that I'd actually say is good for all skill levels. You see beginners tottering along and walking sections, and there are people who just bomb the crap out of it and have fun! If you're one of the latter, watch out for the former! I've ridden this trail a ton of times and I'm still getting better at it.

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  • John Fisch
    Reviewing West Ridge Trail:
    ****

    This is an excellent trail if you're a serious rock hound. While it's more fun as a descent than a climb, it makes a better uphill leg as the other trails it connects to (Otero Canyon and Birdhouse Ridge) are even better downhills. It's worth repeated riding as you can measure your improvement in how many obstacles you can clear without stopping for breath. The rocks can be challenging, but are doable--the tougher parts are rutted in addition to being rocky.

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  • jkacuba
    *****

    Fast, fun and flowy when ridden south to north. Some technical spots, lots of fast smooth singletrack and few spots to catch some air. I rode Otero from the Mars Court TH and dropped in from Gnasty (05057). After screaming down Otero I climbed back out of the canyon on Blue Ribbon (05236). I'd recommend doing that loop in the opposite direction - the initial climb up Blue Ribbon is tough and rocky - it would be much better coming down into Otero!

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  • Timothyfluegge
    ****

    Rode this trail in conjuction with Tunnel Canyon yesterday. Rode Otero again as an out and back today. Went to the Air Base boundary and came back three times for a 12-15 mile day. For the first 2 miles from the parking lot the trail is esentially flowy, hard pack singletrack with an easy climb up the Canyon. About two miles in things begin to get noticeably more techy; there is one rocky section that I can't imagine anyone cleaning (on the ascent anyhow) except the most skilled rider on the gnarliest 29r. The return is a blast. Once you get past the rocks its essentially two miles of flowy, smooth singletrack that whoops back and forth across the ravine floor. There are plenty of straight lines where you can really hit it, Jack, but do beware of a few blind corners where other bikers and hikers might come up on you suddenly. This is an intermediate trail. Be sure to pick the right line down the canyon or you could be hurtling off the trail several feet onto the canyon below.

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  • limetownjack
    ****

    Otero Canyon is a good intermediate trail and a great alternative to the foothills. Can be technical in spots but much tamer than some of the other branching trails. Trail is cut short because of Kirtland Air Force Base which is a shame. This trail is only 2-3 miles by itself but it serves as a terrific warm up/cooldown for the other more technical trails in the area.* Review edited 6/15/2012

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  • LoboApo28
    ****

    I took 264 to the left when starting out and climbed that ridge up. It is a tough, technical ascent that will earn you some great options once at the top. The trail meets up with Forest Road 106. If you stay going left you will run into Tr. 264 again to your right. There are lots of options once you are on this trail. I took it a little ways down until I reached a right turn to go down Otero Canyon. This is a FUN downhill with lots of variation and room to fly and push your abilities. Enjoy!!!

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  • jonnygogo
    ****

    Tunnel Canyon to Otero provides various loop options if you are willing to explore. On top and east there are quite a few forest roads and a few singletracks that finish in residential neighborhoods: please walk your bike out the final 100 yards and
    be respectful to landowners. RE: restricted land. Albuquerque native reports that the border where trail crosses into Kirtland Air Base land was patrolled following 9/11 in the 2009 season there were no reports of active patrols. Tunnel/Otero/Cedro are all nearly impossible to ride after a good rain due to the soil: find rockier terrain after rains: Foothills is a good alternate. * Review edited 3/10/2010

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  • omaha
    ***

    Air Force Base Security limits your exposure to the full trail. Go at your risk of a fine. Start at Tunnel Canyon. And it's safer to park there, full view of lot from the road. The Otero parking lot is sheltered from view and many cars have been broken into.

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  • dauw
    ***

    Fun trail system that can be rocky on the ridges and full of flow and drops in the canyon. Start at Tunnel Canyon to extend the network and get a longer down back to the car. A good alternative to Alb. foothills rides

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