"Impossible to choose a favorite among them, these are listed by distance from Santa Fe."
Caja del Rio – Closest to town and part of the Santa Fe National Forest, this area has multiple use trails amidst cattle grazing. Caja del Rio has two access points offering different terrain. One is located between Las Campanas Drive and the frontage road to 599 (Caja del Rio Road), near the Marty Sanchez Golf Course on County Road 62 and has permanent bathrooms and stock water. The other access point is from Las Campanas Drive turning on Old Buckman Road down 7 miles of dirt road to Diablo Canyon. This entrance dead-ends at the Rio Grande River. Neither access requires a high clearance vehicle.
Sangre de Cristo Mountains – Just 12 miles from town, Aspen Vista is one of the most popular of many well-marked trails in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On this multiple use trail, you might encounter hikers, mountain bikers, snow shoeing, and dog walkers on this 10 mile moderate climb fire road that leads up to some of the greatest views of Santa Fe. The trail head has free parking. www.sdcmountainworks.com/hiking/trails.php
Galisteo Basin – 20 minutes from downtown Santa Fe is a rural community planned around 13,000 acres of open space with equestrian riding and dog walking. There is no daily use fee, and the public is encouraged to explore and enjoy this amazing eco-system. www.galisteobasinpreserve.com/index.php
Cerrillos Hills State Park– 15 minutes south from Santa Fe on the Turquoise Trail, at just over 1000 acres, this is the smallest area and easily covered in one day. It is the only area with a horse rental stable right at the entrance. www.brokensaddle.com/.The trails are mostly single track with a lot of hills for intermediate difficulty. The hills were mined for deposits of copper, silver, lead, zinc, iron, gold, and turquoise; some mines date back as far as the 1500s. The trails have a self-guided tour with posted signs describing each mine’s history and a bridge above to peer down into the mines. The small parking area requests a daily fee of $2 for cars; $5 for horse trailers. www.cerrilloshills.org/. A unique place in town is Mary’s Bar. Mary’s family built this bar early in the 1900’s. Mary, now 95 years old, still runs the bar personally. www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-cerrillos.html.
Sandia Mountain – 45 minutes south, theUS Congress designated the Sandia Mountain Wilderness in 1978 as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System boasting 38,000 acres. This wilderness is located between the Turquoise Trail (I-14) and I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There are trails dedicated to the equestrian. Daily parking fee depends on vehicle type. http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Sandia%20Mountain%20Wilderness