4 Don’t-Miss Trails in Santa Fe County

Santa Fe County, with its endless trails, diverse landscapes, and 320 days of sunshine a year, is an outdoor lover’s paradise and has been designated a Silver-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The area is enveloped in wilderness, and whether you’re looking for a quick stroll through the piñon and juniper trees or a weekend backpacking trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, here are some of the best trails in the area for every type of outdoor enthusiast.

On any given day you’ll see locals and visitors alike exploring the wilderness with a giddy grin on their face and possibly some words of wisdom to point you in the right direction. So answer the call of the outdoors and see why USA Today  voted Santa Fe the #1 Outdoor Destination in the United States.

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Dale Ball Trail System

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Discover a network of beautiful trails which are accessible through several trailheads. (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County)

The 22-mile network of interconnecting trails is the quickest way to get up into the mountains from the Santa Fe Plaza. Dale Ball Trails are great for running and hiking and are also mountain bike friendly. However, it can be narrow and steep in some parts, which requires users to be considerate and aware of each other.

The trail is moderate to easy and has lots of sun exposure, especially in mid-summer, so be sure to wear lots of sunscreen, a hat and bring plenty of water. As you meander along the path through the piñon and juniper trees and tiny wildflowers, you’ll climb up to spectacular views of the city and beyond.

If you’d like to add a little extra distance, the trail junctions are marked and easy to follow. One of the best views from atop the trail system is Picacho Peak – you’ll find yourself among the clouds with gorgeous vistas of the valley more than a thousand feet below and with magnificent peaks far off in the distance.

The Details:
Activities: Hiking, Trail Running, Mountain Biking
Dogs Allowed: On a leash
Trail: Dirt, Rock
Ascent: 554 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate

Cerrillos Hills State Park Trail

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Cerrillos Hills, New Mexico’s 35th State Park, is a year-round, day-use park located off the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County)

This gentle path circles the Cerrillos Hills State Park and is a great option to acclimatize yourself to the region and altitude. Aside from the well-kept paths and spectacular views, the state park is rich with history and offers a great educational experience.

Dotting the trail are a number of abandoned turquoise mine shafts accompanied by informative signs about the mining boom that took place in the late 1800s. There is little-to-no shade coverage throughout the trail so be sure to bring appropriate attire. Mountain bikers may find the dirt and sand trail a bit challenging, but the winter months are usually ice-free and great for biking.

If you’d like to take in views of the Galisteo Basin from horseback, Broken Saddle Riding Company offers excellent equestrian tours guided by locals – the sunset tour is exceptional and allows visitors to fully take in the vastness of the area. There’s something about riding through the scenic hills on horseback that seems to quiet all of the noise in the world and take you back to a simpler way of life.

The park also hosts plenty of family friendly events throughout the year including talks by local historians, star parties, moon hikes and more.

The Details:
Activities: Hiking, Trail Running, Mountain Biking, Equestrian
Dogs Allowed: On a leash
Trail: Dirt, Sand
Ascent: 656 ft.
Difficulty: Easy

Borrego-Bear Wallow-Winsor Triangle Trail

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Hike in an aspen-fir forest. This hike is beautiful especially during the fall. (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County)

Borrego-Bear Wallow-Winsor Trail, a local favorite, is a 4.57-mile loop made up of three intersecting trails that weave through an aspen-fir forest. The path transports you to a terrain abundant with a variety of wildflowers, mosses, and even wild strawberries and raspberries. As you descend into an aspen forest, you’ll hear the trickle of water flowing through the small creek next to an open area great for picnicking. It’s the perfect getaway for a little tranquility.

The trail is especially popular on weekends – particularly in the fall as visitors flock to witness the aspen leaves transforming into the gorgeous hues of autumn. Keep your ears peeled for adrenaline junkies on mountain bikes who like to go fast!

The Details:
Activities: Hiking, Trail Running, Mountain Biking
Dogs Allowed: On a leash
Trail: Dirt, Rock
Ascent: 846 ft.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Winsor Trail to Lake Katherine

This trail is accessible from March until October and is a ten mile hike. (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County)

Lake Katherine is a must-see while visiting Santa Fe County. Winsor Trail is a great option for those looking to slip away into nature for an overnight trip. The 10.1-mile trail is a bit on the difficult side with a 3,471 ft. climb, especially for inexperienced backpackers, but the views of Lake Katherine are absolutely worth the effort.

Visiting during the winter months? If you’re in for a bit of a challenge, blankets of snow on the trail add a sense of calm and stillness to the serene terrain.

The Details:
Activities: Hiking, Backpacking
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Trail: Dirt, Rock
Ascent:3,471 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Explore More With Google Trekker

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View 32 Google Trekker locations in Santa Fe and Santa Fe County! (Photo courtesy of TOURISM Santa Fe)

With more than 300 miles of trails in Santa Fe County, there’s always more to explore! Take a virtual trek along 32 trails and outdoor destinations through images captured by new Google technology—Google Trekker. Google Trekker  is a special 50-pound, panoramic camera apparatus outfitted with fifteen lenses that was loaned to TOURISM Santa Fe. Our team coordinated with dozens of local outdoor VIP’s and experts to hike some of the regions most renowned and scenic locations – with the Trekker on to capture the entire journey.

Check out the behind the scenes video with Google Trekker! (Video courtesy of TOURISM Santa Fe)

Getting out the door is one thing. Getting outdoors is another. Santa Fe’s beautiful blue skies and amazing mountains will connect you to the great outdoors. So whether you hike, bike or run, your outdoor playground awaits you!

Start planning your adventure by ordering the free 2019 Santa Fe travel guide . Be sure to check out our Deals and Specials page, which includes special offers on lodging, meals and shopping.

This blog was written in partnership with TOURISM Santa Fe  and Santa Fe County .

2 thoughts to “4 Don’t-Miss Trails in Santa Fe County”

  1. We were looking for a place to hike, and with many of the trails closed due to fire concern, we searched and found the Cerrillos Hills State Park. This is an old mining area and one of the points of interest in the park are abandoned mines that have been cordoned off by fencing to slow the continued deterioration.

    There is a network of trails, all detailed on a map available at the parking / access / trailhead. The trail is rocky, requiring a watchful eye while traversing. The various trails are marked at the intersections, making it easy to identify your position on the map.

    There’s not a lot of diversity to see on the trail, but there is are slickrock sections at a couple of places and a dry wash that could become an issue if caught in a sudden downpour. The trails present constant grade changes.

    Should you stick to the outside perimeter of the trails you will hike somewhere between 5-6 miles. There are certainly shorter options and you can double back should you be looking for more exercise.

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