Eye of the Sandias Hike

I had heard there was an eye painted on a rock high up on a trail in the Sandia Mountains.  So map in hand, I headed out last week to find it.  I had heard it was a challenging hike.  Boy…it was!

I started out at the end of Copper Street.  Right when I turned on the dirt trail to start my hike, I saw a Curve-Billed Thrasher on a cinder block wall enjoying the morning sun and singing quietly to himself.  He was adorable.


Curve-Billed Thrasher

From there the hike started climbing….and climbing….and climbing.  This trail was relentless.  But the views grew increasingly more expansive and beautiful as I climbed.


Scarlett’s tongue is hanging out.  We had been climbing.  City of Albuquerque in the distance.

I had to stop from time to time to catch my breath.  Scarlett would be up ahead a ways as she could traverse the trail much easier than me.  Whenever I stopped, she would look back waiting for me to start climbing again.


Scarlett waiting for me on the trail.

Along the way there were some really cool rock formations made out of the wind eroded granite.  I love finding shapes in the rocks.  Here are a few of the best ones on the hike.


Gorilla Face


Roman Helmet


Cartoon-like character reclining on a rock.

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Fish head

While taking time to photograph the rock formations, Scarlett was waiting for me ahead on the trail.


Can you see Scarlett at the top of the trail?  Look how steep that trail is!

The trail continues to climb.  By now I’ve hiked straight up for a mile.  Every now and then I would get a break on the steepness.


And Scarlett is still ahead of me…waiting….


Can you see Scarlett peeking around the rock?

The views continued to expand.  This is my favorite scenic photo of the hike.


My favorite photo of the hike.  I swear I can see 100 miles away from here. Those are the Monzano Mountains in the distance on the left. 

Pushing on…now I’ve hiked 1.5 miles.  Tough hike!  The directions to the eye said don’t get discouraged at this point.  I’m almost there.  I took time to take a selfie.

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Kelly about 3/4 of the way up on the hike. 

And Scarlett is still ahead of me….waiting…


Can you see Scarlett peeking through the cactus?? Silly girl!

I finally top a rise and look ahead to see the eye.  I cheered!  Literally!  I climbed for 2 straight miles!  Can you see it ahead on the rock?


The eye is straight ahead! YAY!!!

It is said the eye was painted some time in the 1960s.  You always wonder what prompted someone(s) to paint this on a rock here.  But we have to think about what younger people were like back then.  It was the time of free love, LSD, mushrooms, marijuana, peace.  So it has been theorized that the eye was painted to say the mountains were crying due to the encroachment of the city onto the wild land of the mountain.  The eye faded with time, but then in the 1990s someone painted it again.  When I looked at the eye and tears, they looked freshly painted to me.

If you look closely at the pupil of the eye, you see the symbol of the Zia, the state symbol of New Mexico.


Of course, I had to take several photos of the eye, including a selfie of Scarlett and myself.  It was very windy at the top of the mountain here.

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Time to head back.  Two miles of hiking straight downhill ahead of me.  UGH!!!  This is a picture of the trail back.


View heading back down from the eye.


When I started hiking back down, I saw another painting on a rock.  I’ve never read about the mouth of the Sandias.  LOL!  I wonder when this was painted.


Mouth of the Sandias.  My dentist friend Valerie would approve of the straight teeth! 🙂 I approve of the red lipstick. Definitely my shade of red!

According to my hiking directions, it suggested taking a different route down to get a circular route and have new scenery.  It didn’t say anything about the extreme steepness of the trail.  I was cussing the author of the trail guide the whole way down.  One part of the trail was so steep, I skipped it and chose to walk down a grassy hillside instead for much better and safer footing.

I was glad I made this choice not only for safety, but because the grasses were full of butterflies! 🙂 So I took my time descending and photographed several nice ones.


Painted Lady


Mormon Metalmark


Sara Orangetip


Acmon Blue


Rocky Mountain Duskywing


Sandia Hairstreak

But my priority was getting down.  It was slow going down because I had to watch my footing every step.  Tedious and stressful.

Once again….Scarlett was waiting for me.


My Beautiful Scarlett!!!

The trail was relentlessly steep.  I hate steep downhills.

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Scary downhill!!!  Couldn’t take the time to take a straight photo!

But finally I made it to the bottom.  Yay!  Four miles of straight up and straight down.  Whew!  I was almost to the car when I heard a Cactus Wren singing.  I felt I had a little bit of energy left to photograph a bird….just a little.  LOL!

I found that wren singing his heart out at the top of a cactus.


Cactus Wren

He jumped down as soon as he realized he had a human audience.  But that made for a great photo.


Cactus Wren

Then a Black-Throated Sparrow started singing from the same cactus top…popular cactus.  Of course, I can never resist photographing one of my favorite birds.


Black-Throated Sparrow


Black-Throated Sparrow

I also saw a Western Scrub Jay squawking from a nearby bush so I just had to get his photo too.


Western Scrub Jay

By this time I’ve been photographing birds for 15 minutes.  When I looked down at Scarlett I saw she was fast asleep on the trail.   I pooped that little girl out! Time to head home and relax!


Canyon Towhee










14 thoughts on “Eye of the Sandias Hike

  1. Great post! Love your story about the hike. Super photos, too, but Scarlett is the star of the show. Love that dog. Great imagination on the rock formations, too. 🙂

  2. Awesome!!! I am glad I came across your blog, and I have already hit follow button as I type it.. I love birding too.. happy to come across different endemic species.. really fasinating, we dont get to see these birds in India

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