Where to Hike Near Santa Fe - SantaFe.com
hiker in santa fe national forest

Santa Fe and the surrounding area have hundreds of miles of trails, offering a wide variety of options in line with our area’s diverse population, range of ecosystems, and change in seasons. Santa Fe County has an amazing map that shows all of the trails in the county, but you should read on to learn more.

A core network of accessible urban trails – including the River Trail, Rail Trail, Acequia Trail, and Arroyo Chamiso Trail – fans out from downtown to residential areas several miles to the south and west.

A growing number of off-road trails surround this core of urban trails, several offering 20 to 30 miles of recreational dirt trails EACH.  All told, there are hundreds of miles of recreational trails in and around the Santa Fe area. These include:

Santa Fe Hikes: Lower Elevation Trails

Santa Fe Mountain Trails

If it’s hot in the lowlands, one can seamlessly head further up and into the national forest on foot, bicycle, horse, car, or even public transit in the form of the NCRTD’s “Mountain Route.”  Up the mountain is probably our most popular trail: Winsor National Recreational Trail. It is more than 20 miles long from Tesuque to the Pecos River valley, and the many popular trails that provide santa fe new mexico aspensaccess to and from it, including (as one climbs):

The Pecos Wilderness

The Caja

In addition to these rugged single-track trails, the Santa Fe National Forest offers a wide variety of other trail experiences with more than a hundred more miles of double-track adventure on the Caja del Rio Plateau, which sits above the Rio Grande’s White Rock Canyon to the west of town.  Alongside the ancient lava flows of the “Caja” are more trails that provide unique opportunities to understand and appreciate this area’s rich history by visiting the La Cieneguilla petroglyphs near the lower Santa Fe River or retracing the Camino Real toward the Rio Grande to the northwest.


The Santa Fe Conservation Trust has played a huge role in the development of trails in Santa Fe. Their most obvious work is the Dale Ball Trails which is an amazing resource to have so close to town. But they are also working hard with other Santa Fe advocacy groups to create the GUSTO, or Grand Unified Santa Fe Trail Organization. GUSTO is focused on connecting all the trails in Santa Fe to form one huge, amazing loop of trails.

Under the GUSTO planning collaborative, SFCT will continue to work with partners to forge new trail links and new trail experiences:

  • A recognized and well maintained Atalaya Lookout trail will provide an intermediate experience for the public on the way up steep and rugged Atalaya Mountain on the eastern edge of town.
  • A collaboration with the New Mexico Land Conservancy on the Petchesky Ranch will provide new experiences and travel options for non-motorized traffic along Richards Ave. south of town.

Further afield, SFCT seeks to work with private and public partners to preserve and retrace other historic alignments including:

  • the Chili Line in La Tierra Trails and beyond
  • the New Mexico Central Railroad toward Eldorado and the Galisteo Basin, and
  • Historic Route 66 and the Santa Fe Trail coming into Santa Fe from Glorieta Pass to the southeast.

Maps of Santa Fe’s trail system can be obtained at local travel, outdoors, or bike shops, from tourist information centers at the Convention Center, the Plaza, and the Santa Fe Depot, or on the SFCT website at sfct.org.

About Santa Fe Conservation Trust:

Santa Fe Conservation Trust has worked for nearly thirty years as your local “land trust,” and today oversees roughly 40,000 acres of preserved land in the form of permanent “conservation easements” in Santa Fe, San Miguel, Rio Arriba, and Taos Counties.  This undeveloped land serves to protect our area’s natural, cultural, and historic resources as well as its scenic beauty. It also makes possible many miles of public trails in the foothills of Santa Fe that have become critical to our area’s quality of life and economic vitality, and serve as an important public health resource for our increasingly sedentary and nature-deprived population.

Since its founding in 1993, SFCT has worked with the City, the County, the national forest, and private landowners to develop, maintain, and promote what has become a local network of several hundred miles of public trails.  SFCT continues this work today through specific trail maintenance arrangements with the City of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe National Forest, through the “Passport to Trails” Program, which has taken over 2,000 local school children out to Dale Ball and La Tierra Trails since 2014, by coordinating “Vámonos/Santa Fe Walks” to get a broader segment of our population out onto the City’s paved trails and parks, and by leading a planning effort known as “GUSTO” in which community partners are developing new connections to and from the natural-surface trails that now encircle our city.

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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