When finding new places to hike, I personally like to go with a group the first time.
When there is a knowledgable guide, you often find out things you wouldn't normally know like best places to go off trail. This is exactly how I got to know the ins and outs of Tent Rocks (see my article on Tent Rocks).
Plus, you get a feel for the trail, comfortable with the area, and if you don't have a hiking buddy it's a good way to spend time with like-minded individuals.
The first place to find guided hikes is through the University of New Mexico's Continuing Education (UNM CE). I've taken a couple of trips with them and was never disappointed. This year's hikes look great, here's some examples:
March 21 (Mesa de Cuba advanced hike) as the title says, this hike is for someone in great shape and ready for a brisk pace "over rough, cross country terrain". The guide, Michael Richie, is an outdoor writer-photographer. He'll be taking the group on a hike through "hoodoo and petrified wood filled badlands along the west side of Mesa de Cuba". Sounds great to me! $79.00
April 13 with 3 sessions (The Hiking Artist) "Hike a little, sketch a little". Evening class will discuss and practice sketching mediums and techniques. Also includes two field day trips, hiking about 3-4 miles throughout the day and stopping to explore sketching. $110 and $17 materials fee
April 17 (Hiking Chaco Canyon) sounds like another advanced hike as you'll be assending a 230 foot crack in a mesa wall to reach the mesa top. The fee for this one, besides the bus, includes a boxed lunch. $83.00
To see the full list of their hikes, I suggest going to the UNM CE search and type "hike" in keywords. So sign up for one and you'll have something fun to look forward to this spring!
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