The word "ditch" isn't very exciting. "Acequia", however, is mysterious and tantalizing. It's like those Kahlua commercials that are giving the Most Interesting Man in the World a run for his money. With the last snap of cold weather and snow on the mountains, we recently looked inward to the city rather than upward to the mountains to find some hiking spots. We started at Los Poblanos Open Space just off of Montano and across from the Unser Racing Museum.

There is an official parking lot, but we ended up parking near a series of folk art wood carvings made from a fallen tree. The whimsical designs include a mountain lion, octopus, lamb and plankton. This is where we picked up the trail along the acequia. Sandhill cranes chattered and strutted in the fields. Lots of dogs and their people walked nearby, but the large birds were unconcerned. Have you noticed that when cranes walk, they always look like they're trying to sneak up on something?

We walked past a small community garden, turned left and followed the acequia heading west. The path takes you across a street and behind a series of houses and estates. This peek into backyards large and small is a fun way to get acquainted with the neighborhood and the unusual mix of mansions, old adobes and fields. On our first walk, we came across a house with a colorful back fence greeting committee consisting of several llamas, two dogs, a small herd of sheep and one emu. This was really a highlight of the stroll. The same day, we also caught sight of three hot air balloons hovering above the Rio in the late afternoon.

The acequia trails are a great way to stretch your legs in the city. Some patches of the banks have goathead infestations, so you will want to keep an eye on your dog's paws. JMG is working on a project involving the North Valley ditches, so we'd both love to hear about your adventures along the acequias. Got any favorite spots? Let us know!

Views: 160

Tags: acequias, albuquerque, ditches, hike, hiking, north_valley

Comment by Kathleen "Kat" Wruck on January 20, 2011 at 12:01pm
Wonderful story and great pics.  I can't wait to get back down there!
Comment by Dee Cohen on January 20, 2011 at 2:21pm

Thank you Edith.

Nice pics. Nice descriptions.

Sounds like a good outing. Dee

Comment by David Cameron on January 20, 2011 at 2:29pm
Our current Saturday morning ritual is to go to Los Poblanos Open Space.  Love the cranes, geese, and ducks.  Not so crazy about the pigeons, but who am I to judge?
Comment by Phil_0 on January 20, 2011 at 3:09pm
I know that emu. Sinister!
Comment by JMG on January 20, 2011 at 6:32pm
Nice piece, Edith.  Today I went by Holman's, looking for a good wall-size state map (see my other post) and a map of Albuquerque that clearly showed and labeled the ditches.  Found a state map, but no map of the ditches.  This seems odd to me.  The Middle Rio Grande Conservance District should produce one.  They have a small one that isn't very readable.  I cobbled together my own and labeled it with ditch names.  MRGCD is funded by those of us that live in the parts of town with irrigation ditches and I think they should produce such a map.  I also think paved streets crossing the ditches should have street signs there so you can figure out where you are when you're walking the ditch.  And there should be crosswalks there.  Kit Sargeant, local author and Albuquerque historian, was killed crossing a street while walking on a ditch some years ago.
Comment by JMG on January 20, 2011 at 6:33pm
"Conservancy," not "conservance."  Wish I could edit my post...
Comment by JMG on January 20, 2011 at 8:52pm

Good write-up of the Griegos Drain trail here: http://www.cabq.gov/albuquerquegreen/pdf/GriegosMap_final.pdf

Another ditch (lateral?), Chamisal is my favorite.

Comment by Joan Fenicle on January 21, 2011 at 4:19pm
I wonder if these large irrigation canals would still be considered acequias - most of the acequias in the valley were taken over the the Rio Grande Conservancy District. An acequia tends to be more local, governed by those who use and maintain it. Perhaps I'm talking tradition more than a technical definition. Any comments?
Comment by michelle franklin on January 22, 2011 at 8:56am
thanks for the lovely pics of my nieghbor hood and reminder of how blessed I am to live here.

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