Monday, March 14, 2011

Running the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve and Dale Ball Trails

Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, looking east
Spent a beautiful Sunday evening up on the Dale Ball Trail. I had meant to be up early on my bike and join a group of runners at St. John's College for some running in the hills, but rolled out of bed a bit late for that.

I rallied-up and made it out to the Preserve before sundown. As always, I had the place/trails to myself. I like to warm-up around the SF reservoir which is mostly flat and very scenic. It's one of the few places in Santa Fe for some reason where you see (and hear) birds and other wildlife, like the beavers that have been marauding the tree-stands up there for a few years now. No dogs permitted however, and no bikes. The loop around the Preserve might be ~1.25mi, in any case it makes for a great warm-up or I have on occasion just run interval loops around it.

Beaver construction

Picacho Peak
Thompson Peak to the east still holding their snow
To the north, the Preserve trail exits to the Dale Ball Trail system. Lovely running up and through some challenging switchbacks. I used to find this first section of switchbacks difficult to clean without stopping but no longer, not even with a four month layoff. A second steeper section minus the switchbacks is even more trying but my happy bike legs zipped right up it. Sadly, few signs of snow were visible. The heart shaped chutes on Thompson Peak still reflected white, and I could see a small patch on the north of Picacho. As warm as it seemed to be there was still a bit of Spring chill in the air and I was glad to have worn two zippys on top. I almost could've used some light gloves.

Switchback fun

Trees and sunset in the Santa Fe Canyon
 I felt pretty smooth flying through the faster sections of singletrack, but I cut the loop short due to caution. I cheated left to the west section of trails at marker 16 and looped back to the Preserve on the more moderate terrain. The complete Dale Ball loop is something like 9.5mi, my partial loop plus warm-up around the reservoir was about 5.5mi, 50min. Had such a nice outing I didn't want to stop, and detoured a half mile west down the Santa Fe River in an extension of the Canyon Preserve trails, then back to the truck. What a great evening. I love running.

Upper Canyon Rd at sunset




View Santa Fe Canyon Preserve in a larger map




View South Dale Ball Trail Loop in a larger map

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