Hikers and skiers have long known the joys of exploring the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Santa Fe’s other scenic surroundings. But in recent years, Santa Fe County’s reputation as a mecca for mountain bikers has taken off. The area now draws cyclists from around the country in search of thrilling high mountain trails and breath-taking views. Road cyclists also roll in from near and far. They tour our scenic byways and take in an annual century ride. Biking is big in Santa Fe County. So big that USA Today ranked the area as one of America’s Top Mountain Bike Towns.
Are you a serious biker out to conquer a mountain? Are you searching for family fun riding the trails together? If so, you’ll find a range of terrain for every level. If you can’t bring your own wheels, plenty of bike shops rent mountain and road bikes for all ages and sizes.
Santa Fe Century
Love distance riding? Then plan your visit during one of the most popular cycling events in New Mexico. For more than 30 years, the Santa Fe Century race has offered cyclists a chance to ride through history along the fabled Turquoise Trail, where mining towns once boomed and flourished. Scores of riders travel here from across the country to join hundreds of locals on a 100-mile route filled with striking scenery. Mountain bikers get their own all-dirt ride and an after-party features music, food and well-earned massages.
Riders of all ages participate, choosing 25 and 50 mile routes if they’re not up for the full 100 mile ride. One of the country’s longest-running century rides, the Santa Fe Century takes place this year on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Note that for 2018 only, construction on the Turquoise Trail brings a temporary route change. See the event website map for details.
The Top Three Biking Trails
Mountain bikers will find a wide world of terrain across Santa Fe County. Here are the top three trails:
Dale Ball Trails
Nearly 25 miles of mountainous majesty are yours to explore on the Dale Ball Trails, which wind their way through the famous foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This extensive network of high altitude mountain trails passes through juniper forests and crosses seasonally dry creek beds revealing rock gardens resembling Zen formations. Along the way, the panoramic views are simply stunning. Popular with hikers, snowshoers, and mountain bikers, the trails cover a wide swath of terrain between Santa Fe County, the City of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe National Forest. A good place to begin is in the parking lot located at the intersection of Hyde Park Road and Sierra del Norte. Trail maps are available, along with an advanced wayfinding system to guide you.
Santa Fe Rail Trail
Hop on the 15 mile Santa Fe Rail Trail for a ride straight into railroad history, not to mention beautiful countryside. This multi-use trail parallels Santa Fe’s railway line. It runs between the historic railroad town of Lamy, the closest Amtrak stop, and the Santa Fe Railyard. The trail is paved for 3.5 miles between downtown and the Rabbit Road access point. The path accommodates bike commuters as well as hikers and runners. At Rabbit Road, the trail turns to dirt. This is where the real adventure begins. Bordered by juniper and piñon trees, the trail takes you up and down small hills. The trail opens up with scenic views in every direction. It’s perfect for hikers and cyclists of all levels and popular with families too, because it’s challenging but not demanding.
La Tierra Trails
Northwest of the city lies the sprawling La Tierra Trails system, with more than 25 miles devoted to biking, hiking and even horseback riding. This maze-like network of single-track and double-track trails leads you through some of the best biking terrain in the area. The trails go across open areas with glorious views. Mountain bikers of any level can ride La Tierra’s rolling terrain and fast single-track trails with relative ease. Or, ramp things up at designated technical parks where you can try out jumps and other freeride skills. To acquaint yourself with La Tierra Trails, ride the 10 mile mountain biking and trail running loop. It begins at the La Cuchara Trailhead, where you can park your vehicle. Traveling this well-marked route will give you a sense of La Tierra’s expansive terrain. It will also reveal places in the trail system to further explore.
Santa Fe Biking Culture
So now you have the inside scoop on Santa Fe’s dynamic mountain biking culture. You’re now ready to hop on the trails and embrace your inner pedal persona. Be sure to download our Santa Fe City Trail Map. Both on and off the bike, Santa Fe offers wonders few places can top. We have amazing mountain trails ranging from leg-crushing to laidback. Once you have biked up an appetite, try our New Mexican cuisine that’ll rock your world or quench your thirst and sample our craft beer scene.