To reach Highway 337, take I-40 east to Exit 179. Settled in the 1850s, the village of Tijeras (Scissors, for the way the canyons meet here) is still a stronghold of old Hispano traditions, though it doesn’t look too distinctive on the surface. Beginning the ascent along the mountains, you’ll leave it behind in a matter of minutes.
Very soon you’ll pass the Ponderosa Steakhouse (10676 Hwy. 337, 505/281-8278, 4–11 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–midnight Sat. and Sun., $8), which is really more of a bar, populated by mountain men far more grizzled than you’d expect this close to the big city—this place represents the East Mountains of old, before the area was considered a suburb. But the steak is good—worth driving this route backward, in fact, if you want to end your day with dinner or a drink here.