Cedro Peak lies in the Manzanitas just south of Albuquerque near the town of Tijeras. Below the peak you will find a quiet campground nestled in the ponderosa pine and junipers at an elevation of 7,400 feet. This area is known for the best mountain biking trails in the Cibola National Forest, and features miles of trails for off-road vehicles and horses as well. The campground has 2 large group camping sites with tables, grills, shelters and access to restroom facilities.
Often used by the Albuquerque Astronomical Society for public Star Parties, the site was occupied by a different group on the evening that my dogs and I decided to explore the area. At first we heard drumming and singing, and getting closer we could see vehicles, tents and colorful banners everywhere. A sign at front gate declared that the campsite was unavailable for public use for a few days, as it was playing host to a festival/gathering: Magic Mountain Mabon. Of course I had to stop to investigate!
Mabon is the holiday of the autumnal equinox; a modern Pagan celebration of gratitude for the Earth's bounty and a reminder to be generous during the coming winter. The name of the festival pays homage to Mabon ap Modron, a famous character in Welsh mythology and a member of King Arthur's war party, with a talent for tracking. The annual gathering is put on by the Chamisa Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess, an international neo-pagan organization. Although the equinox is not until later in September, the group holds the gathering early; it gets too cold at night in the mountains by the end of September for many of the members to camp.
Magic Mountain Mabon is a 4 day weekend of workshops, rituals, concerts and fire circles. This year the headliner/ guest of honor was Australian visionary songstress and storyteller Wendy Rule. As we proceeded the rest of the way up the mountain and hiked around the peak, we could hear beautiful drumming and chanting from the campsite wafting up the mountain, which made for a strange and enjoyable adventure. At the peak, we caught a lovely sunset over Albuquerque in the distance. The very top of the mountain is home to several communication towers, and offers 360 degree views, with lots of mountains stretching into the distance. I definitely recommend checking this area out, if you are in Albuquerque and looking for areas other than the Sandias to explore.
To get there from Albuquerque, drive east on I-40 to Exit 175. Drive south for about 4 miles on Highway 337 / James McGrane Memorial Highway. Look out for the Juan Tomas/242 sign on the east side of the road, turn left and follow the road to FR 252. Turn left go for about a mile and you will see the campsite.Keep going up the mountain until you reach the parking area for the peak. THe GPS coordinates are 35.03306, -106.34972.