Santa Fe mountain biking trails are some of the best in the country. It’s a bold claim when there are so many good trails around, but we did earn a Silver level designation from the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) in 2014. And our riding has gotten even better since then.
Santa Fe mountain biking ranges from big burly rides that require big burly bikes to more gentle cruises on flat trails and everything in between. Nothing is super easy here due to the elevation, but not everything climbs thousands of feet in elevation, either. The variety of terrain — from dusty desert to tacky forest trails — is refreshing. It is possible to ride through multiple climate zones from the top of the mountains back into town. It’s also possible to ride year round as many of the lower elevation trails remain dry in the winter.
Without further ado, here are our favorite mountain biking trails in Santa Fe. And if you think we’re missing something, let us know on our Facebook page.
1. Winsor Trail
This is the most popular mountain bike trail in the Santa Fe area, and for good reason. The trail goes all the way from the village of Tesuque (just over the hill from Santa Fe) all the way to Ski Santa Fe. If you’re fit, you can climb the trail as well as your fitness allows. But many are shuttling the trail these days with the aid of the “Blue Bus” which takes you from town to the ski area for just $5. (The bus is running during the COVID-19 outbreak, but reservations must be made.
Just make sure to ride at a reasonable speed and be courteous of other trail users. While the top section of the trail (which is technical and oh so fun) is lightly trafficked by hikers, but the lower sections are generally busy.
2. Galisteo Basin
This trail system is one of the newest in the area, but it offers a good variety for all types of riders. Fit riders will enjoy pedaling fast and hitting the many twists and turns at high speeds. Beginners will enjoy that there aren’t many sustained climbs or overly technical sections. Everyone will enjoy that this place is beautiful. Galisteo Basin Trail Map.
3. Dale Ball
25 miles of trails that you can ride your bike to from town? Sign us up. The Dale Ball Trails really helped put Santa Fe mountain biking on the map. The trails have a good mix of flow, tech, climbing and descending. Best of all, each trail juncture is marked and mapped, so getting lost is out of the question.
The trails are divided into 3 sections. Dale Ball South can be accessed from St. John’s College and has the most technical trails. Dale Ball Central has a great mix of flowy tech sections with moderate (by Santa Fe standards, anyway) climbs for the most part. Dale Ball North is generally the easiest section and the most trafficked since it has a large parking lot.
4. La Tierra Trails
La Tierra is also close to town and offers some easier trails for those who are getting into riding. That being said, the trails are fun enough for any level rider, with plenty of twists, turns, jumps and bumps. The Flow Trail and Whoops are must-rides. And if big jumps are your jam, there’s a whole park devoted to going big, brah.
5. Glorieta Camps
Speaking of going big, Glorieta has constructed a series of downhill trails that will seriously challenge your strength and skill. The trails are so good they twice hosted national competitions. There are some easier options, but this is definitely not a place for beginners. Oh so fun. Note access to this private property is allowed, but you will need to park down the street at the old church and take the Baptist Bypass trail to the main trail system.
This ride is a personal favorite, though some may balk at the idea of having to climb the steep entrance to Chamisa to get to the techy flow of Saddleback. But if you’re willing to suffer a bit in the beginning, it’s worth it. Make sure to park at the bottom of Nun’s Corner by the trail exit, then warm-up on the road before you hit Chamisa. Fast turns, chunk, drops and more await.
7. Rio en Medio
This ride can really be divided into two parts – both of them downhill. The upper sections are technical but mostly rideable by those who are experienced, and quite fun. The lowest part of the trail is an absolute mess of loose rocks, drops, boulders, exposure, etc. Regardless of its condition, this is one of those rides you do so you can brag to your friends, notch your belt and share a beer over. The good news is you can bail out about half way through at the Aspen Ranch parking lot, then head back up to do Winsor.
8. Santa Fe Rail Trail
If you’re looking for an easier ride with scenery, the Rail Trail might be for you. The trail begins downtown and follows the tracks south. Once out of town, the trail turns to packed dirt and gravel, with stunning views and only minor elevation changes. Ride all the way (15 miles) to Lamy if you are so inclined. The Legal Tender restaurant and Chili Line Brewery are waiting for you at the end.
9. Atalaya Trail
Atalaya is a great trail to test your fitness on. It’s technical, steep and challenging from top to bottom. Take the less-steep way up and you can decide to descend or continue up. If you come down you can link to Dale Ball trails. If you decide to continue, be prepared to walk a fair amount. But the payoff at the top is worth it. Descend over to Picacho, or turn it into a huge ride off the back side bordering the watershed.
10. Aspen Vista
Another classic Santa Fe mountain bike trail, Aspen Vista is actually a dirt road that climbs 6 miles to the top of Ski Santa Fe. The scenery is amazing and, while not technical, the elevation is enough to slow you down. Once you reach the top you can turn around or come down the ski area fence line then down Alamos Vista (this is a steep, loose, technical trail and full-suspension is a must.)
11. Rancho Viejo Loop
When you want to get away from it all, Rancho Viejo is your ride. It’s 18 miles of singletrack in the middle of nowhere, with fun descents, a fair amount of climbing, water crossings, epic views and more. This is an all-day affair. Bring a gps or be comfortable with backcountry route finding.
If you want to turn your time in New Mexico into an epic mountain bike trip, consider these nearby rides as well:
South Boundary Trail
One of the best rides in the country is a little over an hour away from Santa Fe. The 30+ mile route climbs from Angel Fire up to 10,000 feet among the Aspens, then a rip-roaring desert descent back into Taos. There are multiple route options, but most of them require a shuttle. https://turquoisetours.us/south-boundary-trail-shuttle-taos
Los Alamos Mountain Bike Trails
Why these trails are relatively unknown is a mystery. The mountains above town are criss-crossed with fun, technical trails that traverse the volcanic landscape. Check out Perimeter Trail or Guaje Ridge Trail.
Santa Fe Bike Shops
Check with Santa Fe Bike Shops to get current trail conditions or recommendations on other rides in town. Several shops rent bikes, including full-suspension. Here’s the list
- Broken Spoke (505) 992-3102
- Mellow Velo (505) 995-8356
- NM Bike & Sport (505) 820-0809
- Rob & Charlie’s (505) 471-9119
- Sirius Cycles (505) 819-7311
- Sincere Cycles (505) 983-8081