If you’re craving some outdoor adventure, then Santa Fe needs to be at the top of your must-explore list. Its gorgeous landscape is home to miles of trails, perfect for hikers and bikers of all experience levels. And whether journeying on foot or on wheels, you’ll be breathing the cleanest air in the country, just ask the American Lung Association. You don’t have to go far to enjoy this outdoor enthusiast’s paradise – the wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains begins just minutes from downtown Santa Fe. It’s time to hit the trails!
The Aspen Vista Trail is the most popular in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Its gradual uphill climb is ideal for hikers of all abilities and ages. And, when the snow starts falling the trail makes for the perfect cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for a steeper ascent, head to the top of the Atalaya Mountain Trail. You can catch your breath as you admire majestic views of the Rio Grande valley and Santa Fe below.
There are many other trails that provide scenic trips through some of the most magnificent scenery in the southwest. Awe at the large stands of evergreens, piñon and juniper forests, cottonwood and willow trees, lush aspen-fir forests, vibrant fields of wildflowers, and stunning monarch butterflies. You can easily a find great place to picnic, camp, bird watch, and more. Before you head out, don’t forget to prepare for high elevation adventure. Fuel up with a traditional New Mexican breakfast, Café Pasqual’s and the Plaza Café both dish up tasty huevos rancheros.
For those who prefer their fresh-aired splendor a bit bumpier, Santa Fe provides some of the best mountain biking in the southwest. Trails range from slow-paced scenic routes to challenging brutal treks. The Dale Ball Trails is an easy-to-access, immaculate 22-mile trail system just minutes from the plaza. Ranging from St. John’s College to the Sierra Del Norte trailhead just north of downtown, the trail network offers single-track loops for all levels of riders. You don’t need a custom helmet and endorsement deal to enjoy an invigorating ride overlooking the city. Just hop on, pedal, and enjoy.The newly renovated La Tierra trail network of service roads, double track and single-track runs, takes riders through a classic New Mexico piñon forest and expansive open spaces. This trail system is suited for novice riders, but do expect to see experienced cyclists blur past.
And just in case any doubt remained about Santa Fe’s bike cred, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) chose the City Different as the destination for thier 2012 World Summit (October 10th to the 13th). The conference will discuss and explore all things mountain bike. Attendees can expect a week of professional development, rejuvenation, networking, and of course, unparalleled riding.
Looking for something a little more low-key? The annual Santa Fe Gourmet Classic held every fall, offers riders of all levels the opportunity to cycle for their supper. This 65-mile gastronomical cruise features rest stops serving up scrumptious snacks and gourment southwest cuisine. The non-competitive ride offers beautiful views of the Sangre de Cristo and Sandia mountains.
Flat tire? Forgot your padded shorts? If you need a quick repair or to restock some gear, stop by Rob & Charlie’s for Santa Fe’s best selection of bikes and parts. If the only part you’re missing is the bike itself, Mellow Velo can hook you up with a rental. Whatever you do, just make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. You don’t want anything to get in the way of post-journey victory enchiladas.
Challenging rides, gorgeous hikes, and spectacular views, make Santa Fe the perfect destination for anyone who loves a vacation that roams. So tie up those laces and get ready to see Santa Fe in its natural and rugged beauty. Happy trails!
The IMBA 2012 World Summit October 10-13, 2012
Miles of Trails
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