It's a little tough to read with the image shrunk, so here is what you might want to know. The black line in the bottom left of the green field is Candelaria. The brown line that follows off is the unpaved bike trail. The brown line that heads right of Candelaria is the way to the parking lot. The blue figure 8 with an extra loop is a pond where you'll see a bunch of geese, ducks, and turtles. The white lump next to the pond is the nature center and gift shop- complete with flush plumbing. The long blue line from the top left toward the bottom right is an arroyo (the bike path is on both sides for a short while south, but is primarily sandwiched between the Rio Grande and the arroyo. The brown squiggles above the bike path is a nice unpaved nature walk. There are cottonwoods everywhere, just waking up. Soon the hummingbirds will arrive.
The nature center puts you right in the middle of the bike route. The sign that you can't quite make out clearly says, roughly, "If you skate to the north and south end, by the time you get back your car will be locked in for the night." I cross the bridge and head north.
When just cruising along, a lot of the trail looks like this. Not too much green yet, but it isn't bleak either. There's 3 different surfaces to use- the blacktop, the gravel road on the side for rangers, and down below is a dirt road for horses. I've never been blading and taken pictures at the same time, but it's like driving a car in that you tend to steer in the direction you're looking. This is a bit of a problem for composition, but hopefully you'll see something that makes you want to come out here.
This is where Montaño cuts through, only a mile from the nature center- previously there was just the left side of the fork. Now you go right and underneath unless you feel like a game of frogger.
The wind is blowing from the NW at 20-30MPH today and most animals aren't out, but normally you'll see everything from emus to camels across the arroyo.
You can't see it very well, but there's a grouse in there. As I was rolling along at 10mph I heard loud rustling in the leaves. Really loud. Louder than the wind blowing- and I rolled up within 5 feet of two grouse (grouses? grice? sigh). The first one "flew" away, the other ran under this brush. I had the camera in a zipped pocket at this point, but resolved to carry it in hand for the rest of the ride so I wouldn't miss them next time (there was no next time).
The snow on the Sandias was an unexpected treat. Normally when I'm down here the trees are covered in leaves and the mountain range fades into the background.
There was a surprising amount of new construction going up. Bit by bit, even properties west of Rio Grande are getting subdivided.
Is this a section of the river-water->drinking-water treatment plant?
Here's the parking at Alameda, about 5 miles from the nature center entrance. Alameda's entrance has the distinct advantage of being paved which is helpful when your wheels are only 76mm large.
This is the old Alameda bridge. I find it hard to believe that my school bus went over it every morning and afternoon.
My GPS tells me it's 5.6 miles from the nature center access point to the west end of old Alameda bridge. Time to turn around.
Later on I saw a very small hawk, but couldn't get a picture of it. Also what appeared to be a swallow.
Back on the east side now- the bridge is just to the left of this picture. There's also a nice park down by the river. This is where pavement ends and Corrales begins as far as going north is concerned. Horses like dirt. Something for everyone.
They're penned up, but that's 1 camel and 4 llamas (or similar) back there.
Looking toward the Rio Grande, you see many of these flood-plain debris traps (they're all interconnected with wire). As large as the Rio Grande is now, it must have really earned its name before we had upstream flood control. I've never seen the water near these, but it must be quite a sight.
Every half mile or so there's a shaded bench to stop and rest at. Not so important now- much more so when it's hot and dry.
If you happen to be new to rollerblading, this is a good posture for going over bumps and cracks. Put more weight on your back foot at the beginning of the obstacle, then shift your weight to the front foot after it's cleared the obstacle. This is especially useful on the nature trail when 1) Crossing the 2x10 wooden bridges and 2) Going under the overpasses since there's usually a divot at the bridge joint.