Trail 365 runs the entire length of the Foothills of the Sandia Mountains, and is arguably the most popular trail in the Albuquerque area. Not all sections of this trail are created equal, however. The section that drops South from the last saddle (pictured above) has the most to offer for riders seeking gravity fueled fun. It has a little of everything, technical embedded rock sections, banked corners, loose exposed areas, a few drops, and plenty of tight squeezes, all at fairly high speed if you can keep your fingers off the brakes.
Once building momentum in a high speed straightaway dropping from the saddle, the character of this trail makes itself known. Time to speed check a bit down a roller that squeezes between some granite boulders.
Another look at the entry squeeze into the FOO Drop. Shawn Arterburn handles it easily.
After this tight point, there is a rock ledge to drop as the trail contours down the hillside. The speed keeps picking up into a nicely banked corner that is begging to be pushed into.
When the dirt is slightly wet the traction is pretty amazing through this section! Since FOO Drop faces the South, it is one of the only trails that is usually clear of snow for the majority of the winter months.
Shawn Arterburn rails the banked corner that heads into a rock garden. It then immediately goes into a big left hander that has a decent rut carved into it, which helps to avoid drifting out on the eroded granite surface that makes up most of the trail.
From there, the trail traverses a bench cut section that begins fairly technically going across sections of embedded granite. This is the most technical, and also the most exposed section of the FOO Drop, and is often referred to as the start of Sidewinder.
The exposure of the Sidewinder section is hard to ignore at high speed. Ron Cura leads Shawn Arterburn and Paul Sabia into the rocky goodness. Following the granite section pictured here, the trail dials back the technical difficulty, and proceeds through a series of corners.
These corners are all varied, some flat, some slightly banked, some are tight and some are exposed. It takes riding the section a few times to really flow perfectly through them all and exit with max velocity.
Of course, in this midst of all these great corners, there are a few more technical challenges and several more boulders to navigate through. A clipped bar here would mean a close encounter with a cholla cactus for Paul Sabia.
The trail ends with a few more linked up corners, which the crew was stoked to train.
This Strava segment shows the steepness and length of the FOO Drop and Sidewinder section of Trail 365.
It is worth noting that this route is a loop. The only way to stay on dirt (there is an option to bail out and climb up a nearby neighborhood road) and get back to the rest of the trail system is to climb back out the same route. Keep this in mind when descending, as there is oftentimes uphill traffic and the exposure can make passing impossible without stopping and stepping off the uphill side of the trail.
This last graphic from MTBProject shows the whole FOO Loop, at just under 2 miles, and around 400 feet of descending and climbing.
Shout out to FOOMTB (Friends of Otero) for adopting this section of trail, and building and maintaining so more riders can enjoy it! Thank you!
Now go ride Trail 365 – FOO Drop and Sidewinder!