Those outside of New Mexico probably have no trouble imagining the desert aspects of New Mexico, although this is the high desert, the land of sage, not saguaro. And, although everyone has heard of the Rio Grande, most probably can’t imagine the riparian habitat that hugs the floodplain and banks of the river. The dominant native vegetation of the bosque (riparian woods) is craggy, sprawling cottonwood, which can become enormous over a long lifetime. Possibly the largest remaining bosque in New Mexico is also in the heart of New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. Among the many trails within this largely public space is the Aldo Leopold Trail (ALT), constructed almost two years ago. The trail leaves the paved Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail (which itself is a treasure of the community) near the Rio Grande Nature Center (another gem), located where Candelaria dead-ends near the river. A short section of the ALT is paved. All of it is level. When the pavement ends, the sandy trail pushes closer to the river, affording many views of the river, waterfowl, and the western bank of the river. On Thurs afternoon, 1/6/11, we walked about 3 miles round-trip, taking us nearly as far north as Montaño bridge, where the sandy trail re-joins the bike trail. Near that end point, we sat on a massive fallen cottonwood someone had carved into a couple of benches. In an hour and a half, we nearly forgot we were surrounded by a city. We only encountered two other people on this trail (riding horses), although we saw perhaps a dozen bike riders on the bike trail. We also saw a bird we’ve seen only once before and never in Albuquerque. Here are some pictures (click any to see larger versions and captions, which also pop up as you hover over each photo):
It is far too easy to ignore this beautiful sliver of land and water in the heart of Albuquerque,
in the heart of New Mexico, in our hearts. Get out and see for yourself, wherever you live.
|A Walk in Albuquerque’s Bosque|