Monday, January 24, 2011

Nordic Skiing Canada Bonita (Guaje Canyon) - Los Alamos

Myself and better snow conditions
After spending the last two weekends in the mountains and seeing the Southwest Nordic posse storm the gates in Chama, I made the drive up to Los Alamos this morning to check out the nordic skiing. They have a nordic groomed trail system that runs from the back of the Ski Pajarito parking area up Guaje Canyon to Canada Bonita. The track winds out approx. 5k before looping back at the Canada Bonita meadows.

The trail was great, the snow conditions were icy and thin. SWNordic who maintains the trail has done a lot of obvious trail work grooming the track, putting up shadow fences in spots to shield the track from sun, and posting maps at all the trail junctions and connectors. I tried to ski in from the car, but the front hill is hard pack and ice, and melts out to dirt near the top so it might be better to hike in under similar conditions. The ski trail truly begins at the top of the hill where a signed skier-only section breaks off from the main multi-user trail which it parallels up the canyon.

The drive took me about an hour whereas driving up to Santa Fe's Norski trails takes about 40min. Not much difference there. However, the skiing in Guaje Canyon was superior to Norski even under lackluster snow conditions. The hills and sharp turns make the track a bit more difficult and if you ski all the way out to the return loop at J marker, the trail is twice as long. It was gorgeous out there, especially when skiing out of tree cover into the meadows. My camera crapped out on me so unfortunately the photos I'm posting here are substitutes. It took me an hour to ski to the trail turn-around and 45min to return, of course I'm not the strongest free-heel skier. I will be heading back up here the first new snow we get.

Guaje Canyon - photo by SWNordic
Use of the trail was by requested donations. Frequent skiers can become a SWNordic member for $20, online or by envelope at the trail head. Proximity to Ten Thousand Waves, El Farol, and Tesuque Village Market, are all fairly comparable to an outing at Norski. I'm not familiar with where a good place to eat or stop for a beer would be in Los Alamos - if you know, please add it to the comments below.

A great trail.
Trail Map .pdf can be found here

 See also:   
  - Area Nordic Trails Listing

  - Santa Fe Snow Shoe Classic 1/8
  - Chama Chile Ski Classic 1/16

Related Links:
  - Southwest Nordic Ski Club


  1. The Hill Diner on Trinity Drive has good food and beer is available.

  2. Right on Mike, the Hill Diner it is. The next trip up to Guaje and and the SWNordic ski trail will include a visit and review of the Hill Diner. Let's pray for a decent winter storm now people.

  3. Thanks for the nice write up. We are looking at some good snow this week, so hopefully we will be in business again. The groomed trails are still remarkably good right now, just past the front hill a bit. Finally. Hill Diner has beer? They keep saying they will have beer, but I have not seen it yet... Do me a favor and introduce yourself again next time I see you. Were you working the finish line at the santa fe snowshoe race this year?

  4. Tarik - I was working the finish at Santa Fe and Chama. We talked a bit about the course and comparisons to last year's race. Found Moscaline recently and really liked your take on the biking scene.

    With this storm I hope to be back up at SWNSki/Guaje this weekend. I randomly met Dave Wykoff the other day and he was telling me about the work that goes into that trail. Madness, but the trail is sweet. I'll check out the Hill Diner and see what the situation is there. Cheers.

  5. Central Avenue Grill is good, I think with full bar. Also, on the edge of town past the airport (eastbound) is Des Colores, with ok mexican and good margaritas, nice atmosphere but seem to have strange hours and I find them closed more often than not. Like most places in LA. Then there are the VFW or American Legion of course, if you;re into that scene.. :-)

  6. Hey, this is great man, thanks. We found Canyon Bar which was pretty awesome. No food, but plenty of beer with a lot of good beers on tap. Found Bob's Bodacious BBQ although it was inexplicably closed on weekends. Will have to hit up the Central Ave. Grill and Des Colores.



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