Above: The Kiwanis Cabin was built from the limestone rock of Sandía. Photograph by Ian Beckley.
THE LIMESTONE-BLOCK WALLS of Kiwanis Cabin cling to a craggy cliff atop Sandía Peak, looking both rustic and immovable. Good thing, too. The first little lodge, built in 1927 as a community service project by the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, was made of wood. It burned down. Heavy winds blew a second wooden cabin off the mountain. (“That’s why I tell people not to climb onto the roof,” says Sandra Arazi-Coambs, an archaeologist for the Cibola National Forest.) In 1936, the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps chose the mountain’s own rock for the 16-by-25-foot building. The men of the CCC had a summer camp in Sandía Park and a winter camp near today’s La Luz trailhead. They built other picnic structures—Doc Long and Juan Tabo among them—and carved Sandía Crest Road up the mountain’s back side. Arazi-Coambs assesses the historic structure’s condition annually and deals with occasional insults to its legacy. “I’ve spent several days up there cleaning graffiti, which is bad,” she says. “But the experience of being there kind of makes it worth it. It’s beautiful. You can see the whole city.”
Find trails to Kiwanis Cabin, about one mile round-trip, at the Upper Tram House and Sandía Crest House.