The quaintest of mountain towns, populated mostly by a retirement community. But not the uptight, slow-moving kind. Everyone is fit and thriving in the big outdoor landscape surrounding the adobe community. A town mostly known for its celebration of southwest art, but certainly not the reason we came to visit. While most visitors perused the galleries and fine dining, Justin and I set out to explore the trail systems in every direction of the town. The best part about our itinerary was that it fell during the work week, so we saw an average of two people on the trails each day. Lucky for us, we have a family member who invested in Santa Fe, so with a free place to stay we flocked to the high country during my week off between clinicals.
The main system, and most well-known trail, is on the Santa Fe Ski mountain. The Winsor trail is a technically advanced single-track running point-to-point from the resort to town. Our first morning we drove 15 minutes from town to trailhead. I always rely on the TrailForks App to navigate new areas, which is well mapped around Santa Fe. We started our route at the Chamisa trailhead, which climbs 2 miles uphill to intersect with the Winsor trail. My throat was burning from huffing so hard uphill, but luckily the next few miles were downhill. Justin and I parted ways and I made a big loop with a turnaround at the Tesuque junction. If you are looking for a purely downhill ride and want to avoid the uphill, most riders shuttle their cars and leave one at the ski resort, ending at Tesuque. Downhill on a technical trail is never terribly hard, but coming back up was a gut punch. If all you are worried about is being outside on an epic trail, then I highly recommend just going for it. Or you can choose from the myriad of other options on the mountain.
The La Tierra Trail system is less than ten minutes from town and is a nice break from riding black lines all day. We came here a couple times, and I was surprised by the emptiness. I soaked up the solitude each time and enjoyed the expansive view of the pine stands and rolling hills beyond town, framed by a big blue sky.
By mid-week, trail stoke had almost exceeded trekking capacity, and rejuvenation was necessary. We made the splurge on an evening spa at Ten Thousand Waves. This resort-spa feels like a small boutique village, with a deep sense of Zen in the middle of nature. I imagine coming here in the winter after skiing makes for a seriously serene evening.
Another way to recharge: Going to the evening farmer's market in downtown Santa Fe for dinner fixings.
Since we had a longer than usual vacation, we ventured outside of Santa Fe late in the week to Los Alamos. The town isn’t much of anything, but there were more trails to be explored, and a collection of hot springs. Another option close by is Taos, one of my favorite areas of New Mexico. If Justin and I hadn’t already explored this area and wanted to see new territory, we definitely would have returned. The Los Alamos trails were lush with grassy valleys, tall pines, steep canyons, and blooming wildflowers. The season hadn’t quite changed to fall and the snakes were out and about, including a large gopher snake (non-venomous) across the trail that I nearly biked over.
Just west of Los Alamos is Bandelier National Monument. This area is a stunner with flowing rivers and dramatic rocks stands. There are three hot springs in the area, which I imagine have high traffic on the weekends. We made the short trek to Spence Hot Springs, because I had heard this one had the least amount of traffic. We took a short dip in the springs, but I’m weary to even call them springs, given the water felt like a lukewarm standing bath of bacteria. We ended up spending more time below at the San Antonio creek to clean off and sun bathe on the rocks.
Santa Fe was good to us. If it was a few hours closer you would find us there more often.
I am an outdoor travel junkie with my doctorate in occupational therapy. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.