Heartbreak Hill Loop
The Heartbreak Hill Loop in the East Mountains is a classic ride. This is a challenging ride but it is a good way to get out of the heat of the city into the rural east mountains. This ride provides great views of the Sandias. The route is mainly open with sweeping views in all directions. This is a popular route and you're likely to see other cyclists.
Heartbreak Hill West Side Climb
Start early to beat the heat and the wind. NM14 and NM344 are 2-lane roads with no shoulders but normally have light traffic. It's called "heart-break" because that's what your heart does as you struggle up the climb from San Pedro to the summit. The hardest section, pictured to the right, is fairly short but about 15%.
The elevations are higher than Albuquerque so it is definitely colder out there in the winter. Since these routes are all "lollipop" routes, Heartbreak Hill can ridden from west to east, the steeper direction, or the routes can be reversed and HBH can be ridden from east to west.
- Standard Route: 59 Miles, 3,400'' Elevation gain for the standard route (Smiths -NM14 - HBH - Frost Rd. - NM14 - Smiths). Starting at Tijeras shortens the route by ~13 miles.
- Heartbreak Hill Reversed - The same route as the Standard Route but in the opposite direction. NM333 to Frost Rd. to NM344, Cedar Grove, Heartbreak Hill to NM14, to NM333.
- Vallecitos Route: 57 miles, 3,400' elevation
- "Frost-Free" Route: 59 miles, 3,400' elevation.
Getting There: Starting places are typically the 4-Hills Smiths or Tijeras (shortens the routes by 13 miles and 850' of elevation gain).
Roadways: The about 1/2 mile of Heartbreak Hill has been repaved (2007) with shoulders from east of San Pedro to the summit. Very nice but just as steep, 13% in places. Watch for debris on the shoulders.
The highways are all rural, mostly 2-lane highways with light to moderate traffic. NM14 north of Tijeras to the "Triangle" is 4-lanes with a small shoulder and curb and with moderate traffic in the afternoons. NM333 (RT66) is 2 or 4 lanes with shoulders from 4-Hills to NM217 but watch for debris. The traffic is light except for NM14 from I-40 to the Triangle, Frost Rd. west of Vallecitos mainly, and NM344 from Edgewood to Frost Rd. have more moderate traffic. Watch for recessed manhole covers on the west-bound shoulder from Tijeras to the underpass near Carnuel.
Options: There are lots of options.
- Tijeras Trot describes the ride through the canyon.
- NM217 Rollers.
- Madrid Gold Rush.
- Ride out NM333 (RT66) to Sedillo Hill or to Mountain Valley Rd. Take either up to Frost Rd. or from the other direction.
- Riding east on Dinkle Rd. at Mountain Valley Rd & I-40 (north side) intersects NM344 a couple of miles north of Edgewood. This avoids riding NM333 to Edgewood since that stretch is very busy and the junction of NM333 & I-40 is pretty awful these days.
- Try the La Madera Climb which is a out and back side trip off NM14 just north of the "Triangle", for an additional 8 miles and 600' elevation.
- East Mountains South Rides Map | East Mountains North Rides Map.
- Going north on NM14 there is no place to get water or food past the Triangle (Frost Rd and NM14). Stock up there for snacks. The original Triangle Grocery store is now in Cedar Crest. There is a Shell station at the Triangle and there are two gas stations in Cedar Crest and a Subway.
- It is not uncommon to have east winds in the morning and west in the afternoon. Get an early start. Watch for thunderstorms in summer afternoons. It is quite a bit colder on the east side in the winter.
Heartbreak Hill Standard Route
The Standard Route begins and ends at 4-Hills, through Tijeras, north on NM14 to NM344, over Heartbreak Hill, east then south on NM344 through Cedar Grove to Frost Rd., then west on Frost Rd. to NM14, then south to Tijeras and west to 4-Hills. This route could be ridden exactly in the opposite direction.
Heartbreak Hill Standard Route CueSheet // 57+ Miles, 3,400' Elevation Gain.
Mileage Waypoint Leg Description
Smith's at Four Hills Ride east on NM333 (old Rt. 66) to Tijeras at I-40. Continue straight through the intersection at NM333 & NM337 (old S14) and curve left (north) under I-40.
Tijeras Ride straight (north) on NM14 past the Crest Turnoff at Frost Road, the "Triangle" (Shell station and convenience store) to NM344. The last food available is at the Triangle.
NM14 & NM344 Turn right (east) on NM344 up Heartbreak Hill. Take a well-deserved breather and enjoy the view on the top.
Continue straight (east) on NM344, rapidly downhill, curve right (south) then (west) through Cedar Grove, curve left (south) to the intersection with Frost Road at the Edgewood elementary school.
NM344 & Frost Rd. Turn right (west) on Frost Road's rolling hills to NM14.
Frost Rd & NM14 Turn left (south) on NM14, just one more uphill, then down NM14 under I-40 (NM14 left lane), curve to the right (west) on NM333 (Old Rt. 66) to the intersection at Tijeras.
Tijeras Ride straight (west) through the NM333/NM337 intersection, stop for it of course, to the 4-Hills Smiths and the cars.
Heartbreak Hill Vallecitos Route
The Heartbreak Hill Vallecitos Route begins and ends at the 4 Hills Smiths.
This ride goes east from 4-Hills through Tijeras past Zuzax to Sedillo Hill Rd, north to Meadow and Vallecitos, east on Frost Rd. to NM344, north on NM344 over Heartbreak Hill, to NM14, then south to Tijeras and west to 4-Hills. This ride can be shortened by 13 miles by starting at the Tijeras Library.
The ride along the ridge on Vallecitos provides sweeping views of the Sandia Mountains to the west. Heartbreak Hill is much more gradual from the east but watch for sand on the descent from winter sandings.
Heartbreak Hill Vallecitos Route CueSheet // 57 miles, Total Elevation gain: 3,400 ft. Elevation Gain
Mileage Waypoint Leg Description
Smith's at Four Hills Ride east on NM333 (old Rt. 66) to the intersection at NM333 & NM337 (S14) and curve left to the I-40 underpass.
I-40 & NM14 Turn right (east) on RT66 just before I-40 underpass. Pass Zamora Road and Zuzax to Old Sedillo Hill Road (Dennis Chavez Estates).
I-40 & Old Sedillo Hill Rd. Turn left (north) under I-40 on Old Sedillo Hill Road. Goes uphill, curves to the right (east), to a stop sign at Meadow.
Option: Continue straight on RT66 to Sedillo Hill Rd., over the intersection with I-40. Then you can continue north on Old Sedillo Hill Rd, right on Vallecitos, turn left then hit Frost Road and continue this tour.
Sedillo Hill Rd & Meadow Turn left (north) at Meadow, go downhill, curve right, climbs sharply to another stop sign at Vallecitos.
Meadow & Vallecitos Turn left (north) at Vallecitos. Goes downhill to Frost Road.
Really nice views of the E Sandias here.
Vallecitos & Frost Rd. Turn right (east) on Frost Road. Pedal Up several rolling hills to NM344. Watch out for bicycle-eating potholes. Some potholes have been patched, but the patches are ugly, too.
Option: If you're having a bad day, beat to death by wind, turn left (west) at Frost Road to NM14 and return.
Frost Rd & NM344 Turn left (north) on NM344 at the MountainView elementary school. (Right is to Edgewood (south), straight goes to Stanley) Pedal uphill through Cedar Grove, curve to the right (east), then left (north), then left again (west) before topping out on Heartbreak Hill! Take a deserved breather and enjoy the view and gaze down Heartbreak Hill, where you're going next.
Heartbreak Hill Ride straight on NM344 west, sharply downhill to NM14, savor it.
Beware of sand on the turns left over from winter snow sandings.
NM344 & NM14 Turn left (south) on NM14 downhill to San Pedro, slightly uphill to San Antonito, one more uphill to Mailbox Hill, then downhill to Cedar Crest, under I-40 (use the left lane) curving right to the intersection/traffic light at RT66 & S-NM14..
Tijeras Ride straight (west) through the intersection, along RT66 again to the 4-Hill's Smiths.
"Frost-Free" Heartbreak Hill Route
Getting There: The "Frost Free" Heartbreak Hill Vallecitos Route begins and ends at the 4 Hills Smiths and avoids Frost Rd.
Distance: 59 miles, 3400' elevation gain from Tramway&Central; 46 miles, 2270' elevation gain from Tijeras.
Ride east on NM333 (old RT66 to NM217/Mountain Valley Rd., then cross I-40 to Dinkle Rd., ride east to NM344, turn north on NM344 to Heartbreak Hill, then downhill to NM14, then south to Tijeras, then west to 4-Hills. This ride can be shortened by 13 miles by starting at the Tijeras Library. Heartbreak Hill is much more gradual from the east but watch for sand on the descent due to winder sandings.
"Frost-Free" Heartbreak Hill Route CueSheet // 59 miles, Total Elevation gain: 3,400 ft. Elevation Gain
Mileage Waypoint Leg Description
Smith's at Four Hills Ride east on NM333 (old Rt. 66) to the intersection at NM333 & NM337 (S14) and curve left to the I-40 underpass. Turn right before the underpass, continue east on NM333 through Zuzax and over Sedillo Hill and down to the intersection at NM217/Mountain Valley Rd.
I-40 & NM217 (Mountain Valley Rd) Turn left (north) on Mountain Valley Rd. and cross I-40.
Dinkle Rd is just on the other side of I-40 on the east side of Mountain Valley Rd.
Mountain Valley Rd. & Dinkle Rd. Turn right (east) on Dinkle Rd. towards Edgewood. Dinkle Rd. parallels I-40 on the north side. The speed limits are pretty low but there are plenty of speeders. Dinkle has reasonable pavement.
Dinkle Rd and NM344 Turn left (north) at NM344, ride north past Frost Rd. and MountainView Elementary to Cedar Grove. There is more traffic on this section of NM344. NM344 curves east then north again. Then NM344 curves west and then climb Heartbreak Hill.
Heartbreak Hill Roar downhill Heartbreak Hill to NM14. Watch for sand on the road surface.
NM344 & NM14 Turn left (south) on NM14. Ride south past Pacaao, through San Antonito at the Triangle, through Cedar Crest under I-40 to the traffic light in Tijeras at NM333 and NM337.
Tijeras Ride west on NM333 to 4-Hills.
Heartbreak Hill Routes
Heartbreak Hill Elevation Profile
Note that this shows only the Standard Route from Tijeras - North on NM14 - NM344 (Heartbreak Hill) - Cedar Grove - Frost Rd. - South on NM14 - Tijeras. For the elevation profile through Tijeras Canyon, see the Tijeras Trot. The total elevation gain, including the canyon is 3,400'.