After a big last couple of weekends hiking and a hectic holiday weekend I decided to do a solo trip on Sunday. My goal was to take my hiking doggo, Ripley the German Shepherd, and just get in some easy miles. So I went looking through Alltrails for something that would fit my criteria and settled on the Stripmine Extended Trail Loop, that’s the spelling on Alltrails but the trail is actually Strip Mine #51. It is listed at 5.6 miles with 1,059’ of elevation gain. The route is located on the northern edge of the Sandia Mountains by the town of Placitas. I have never been hiking in this part of the Sandias before so why not.
Ripley and I got up out of bed around 7:30am without an alarm. Like I said my goal was a relaxed day of hiking. We ended up leaving right around 8am and made our customary Starbucks stop for a coffee and a pupcup. Then we made the 25ish minute drive up to the trailhead which was empty except for two other cars. I grabbed my pack and got out my new Patagonia R2 Techface Hoody-which I was excited to use. We set off and didn’t make it 100 yards before someone, aka the trail doggo, decided she needed to use the restroom. Great, it was going to be a blast carrying a poop bag for the next three hours.
We went a short distance down the Strip Mine Trail #51 until it intersected the High Voltage Trail #59. The trail was pretty easy with a gradual undulating uphill course punctuated by a few short, steep sections. After a few switchbacks we scrambled up a small hill for a view that was sadly nothing special then continued on our course. After winding through the desert scrub landscape the High Voltage Trail again intersects the Strip Mine Trail in a T. The Strip Mine goes back to the north to complete the loop however, there is a small out & back section that goes up a “hill.” So of course we went up the hill.
Weirdly enough the trail doesn’t go all of the way up the hill. Who hikes part of the way up a hill without making it to the top? The answer to that rhetorical question is not the trail doggo. So we made our own trail through small bushes, trees, and a bunch of cactus. For some reason the trail doggo just doesn’t get the whole cactus concept and my attempts to keep her out of them more often then not backfired with her all but sitting in them. I think I pulled one cactus spine out of her snoot and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 more out of her feet, not to mention the countless I would eventually pull out at home. It added 300’ of climbing through a couple inches of snow but we made it to the top of our unnamed hill.
After enjoying our view for a few minutes we descended back down the hill which was much easier going thanks to the unexpected snow making our trail still visible. Back at the intersection of the High Voltage Trail and the Strip Mine Trail we took the Strip Mine Trail back around to complete our loop for the day. The route back was rocky and pretty unimpressive. Plus wherever the trail wasn’t rocky it was super muddy. I guess on the way out earlier when the temperature was around 27 degrees the ground was nice and frozen but by the time we where on the way back it thawed out and turned into a mud pit. It felt like I put an extra couple of pounds on my feet in mud.
With our extra off trail section the trail doggo and I did 6.2 miles with 1,453’ of elevation gain in two hours and seventeen minutes. It was nice to get out for a while and just hike but honestly I wouldn’t recommend either trail. The High Voltage Trail was the better of the two and I think it would make for some solid mountain biking but rather uninspiring on the hiking front. This is especially a factor when there are so many great trails in the vicinity. But hey a bad day of hiking is still pretty solid in my book and the trail doggo is now passed out so that’s definitely a positive.