Santa Fe, NM is an arid and high altitude city nestled into the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The city boasts of an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. Temperatures can range from as low as 30 degrees in the winter and as high as 90 degrees in the summer. The lack of humidity makes this a perfect lively outdoor city. Sunsets can be spectacular against the mountains. Hiking the many local trails is a great way to take advantage of the beauty and climate Santa Fe has to offer. There are many options for all levels of ability.
The Dale Ball Trail system is a series of trails located just on the outskirts of the city near St. John’s College. The entire system is more than 20 miles of connecting trails. You can spend days exploring these trails. There are three popular trails in this system worth mentioning.
The Nature Conservancy Trail is located in the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve at the base of the Dale Ball Trail system. It is a 1.5 mile loop that is considered easy. That makes it especially nice if you are hiking with young children. You will encounter wildflowers, twisting pinon pines, song birds and rabbits in this forest floor preserve.
The Dorothy Stewart Trail is a 1.9 mile loop that is considered easy to moderate. It is a good trail to start on if you are not yet acclimated to the 7,000 foot altitude of Santa Fe. There are some colorful rock outcroppings and adequate shade along much of the trail. There are views of the city and surrounding mountains from the top.
The Atalaya Mountain Trail is reserved for those with a little more skill and endurance. This should be considered a full day hike. It will take 2 to 3 hours to reach the top. It is roughly 7 miles long and rises to an elevation of 1,800 feet. It starts out rather gently and becomes steeper toward the summit. The views of the Rio Grande Valley are worth the effort. Bring plenty of water.
After a long day of hiking through Santa Fe, kick back at one of the many hotels or local Santa Fe bed and breakfasts in the area. One of my favorites is Four Kachinas Inn!