Friday, June 20, 2014

Chamisa Trail - Santa Fe, NM

Schroeder and dog cruise the aspen meadow
Got up early and ran out Chamisa last weekend with Schroeder and Therese, plus dog. We were the first truck at the trailhead, there were more than a dozen when we returned yet we saw only two hikers the whole morning. Such is the enduring mystery of trailhead math.

Chamisa is the most convenient summer trail in these parts. It's the nearest trail to town that's forested, so it's cool and shady when the summer temps peg above 85. The trailhead is only two miles up the road from Dale Ball and Little Tesuque, but that's enough to jump bio-zones from high desert to alpine forest. Importantly this includes tree cover, flowing water (Big Tesuque creek), and birds chirping in the canopy above. Lovely stuff.

The running and biking up there is rewarding but not without a challenge. Climbs and descents the whole way with very few flats. It's an easier go than the steeps of Little Tesuque and La Piedra a mile down the road but you've got to bring your climbing legs. 600+ ft climb from the trailhead to the saddle with Sidewinder. A marvelous descent down to the Winsor meadows, then another 650+ft of climbing up to the Bear Wallow/Borrego triangle. Only one creek crossing compared with the dozen fifteen or so below Chamisa, and there's generally very few folks out in this mid-section of Winsor, sometimes only a bicyclist or backpacker. The run back is pleasant until the climb back up to Sidewinder ridge, but it's relatively short and sweet after the long rest.

Distance:  7.7mi
Min Elev:  ~7,700ft
Max Elev:  ~8,480ft
Net climbing:  ~1,700ft

Daybreak on Sidewinder ridge (courtesy Google images)

Climbing Winsor into the day's first sun
Related Posts:
 - Chamisa Trail Loop (mtb)
 - Little Tesuque Trail
 - Lower Winsor

View Chamisa to Winsor Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Elevation profile - roundtrip Chamisa to Borrego

Friday, June 13, 2014

Moon Mountain Trail - Santa Fe, NM

Moon (l) and Sun (r) Mountains stand above the St. John's campus
In recognition of National Trails Day (Sat. June 8), I'm using this week to post write-ups and maps of a few lesser-known area trails. Unlike the more remote settings of the previously posted south-side trails, Moon Mountain and the route up to its summit sit hiding in plain sight among the nearby trail systems of the Santa Fe Foothills.

Moon mountain sits just south of Sun Mountain and just west of Atalaya but gets little love from hikers and trail runners. In fact, those two hikes are the most trafficked within city limits yet across the way on Moon one generally has the whole summit to themselves. One explanation may be that the hike to Moon is a bit longer (than Sun), but the obvious problem is that the trail is a lot less defined, un-marked, and requires a bit of adventure and route-finding to get where you're trying to go. I've never seen a map of the area before, printed or otherwise.

Picacho Peak as seen from the approach
Atalaya as seen from the Moon Summit
Moon summit - just a bunch of rocks until you put some shoes on them
Sun Mountain from the steep west descent off Moon
I prefer to hike/run Moon from the St. John's College trailhead, stretching out on the approach up the Arroyo Chamiso before motoring up the switchbacks to the summit. The trail up Moon's north face really doesn't switch all that much, meaning there's some steep direct climbing and the trail is often in various states of eroded wash-out. That said, roundtrip distance is only about 4mi without extenders.

One such extender is the convenient linkup with Sun Mountain, though combining the climbs can be a tough effort over the ~5mi distance. The trail runner's prize is a four summit linkup of Sun/Moon/Atalaya/and Picacho. Fun, but quite a bit tougher than it sounds.

Distance:  ~4mi loop
Max Elev:  8,085ft
Net Climbing:  ~900ft

View Moon Mountain - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Related Posts:
 - Apache Canyon Trail Loop
 - Eldorado Community Preserve Trails
 - Picacho Peak Summit

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Eldorado Community Preserve Trails

Trail 101
In recognition of National Trails Day (Sat. June 8), I thought I'd spend the week posting write-ups and maps of area rec. trails. Continuing with the theme of less well known south-side trails here are the Eldorado Preserve Trails, just south of NM 285. A caveat with these lovely routes is that they're not public, they're owned by the Eldorado HOA and use is limited to Eldorado residents and their guests. If you've got a friend south of town. best to invite them out for a run then buy a round afterward at the Santa Fe Brewing tap room for recovery.

When I run out there I prefer to head out on the east loop (TR 101) which climbs to the ridgeline then banks west-southwest. Lots of sustained but manageable climbing to start with, I feel it's similar to Sun Mountain, plus a lovely controlled descent with views of Hamilton Mesa to the east and Galisteo valley to the west. The ECP trail network isn't huge like La Tierra or nearby Galisteo Basin but it's enough for a solid run of up to 60-90min with effort on the climbs.

Looking south to the Cerrillos Hills and Sandias beyond
Looking west to the trails high point and Glorieta Baldy beyond

Winding back to the trailhead - and needed hops/recovery
Related Posts:
 - Apache Canyon Loop
 - Arroyo Hondo Open Space
 - Craft Beer in New Mexico

View Eldorado Preserve Trails - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Friday, June 6, 2014

Apache Canyon Trail - Santa Fe, NM

dog and happy ponderosas above canyon
Saturday is National Trails Day. I'd thought I'd post a bunch of new trails, and as generally happens, I let the week get away from me. The first trail I thought I'd highlight is Apache Canyon.

Distance: ~6.3 miles loop
Max elev: 8,300ft
Net climbing: 1,100ft

A little known trail just north of town, but not well signed or mapped. To get there you drive up Old Santa Fe Trail several miles, through Canada de Los Alamos, stay on the road (now dirt) and you'll veer east and into the foothills eventually entering the NFS gate, now on FR 79. A few more miles of steep climbing and you'll find the not so well marked parking area and trailhead, look for parking blocks.

The trail starts and ends on unimproved forest roads. One charges off into the hills (east) for a mile-plus of pleasant windy roads, then you'll need to keep an eye out for some rock markers that will take you off trail and drop several hundred feet into the canyon. Lots of dramatic views, no people, a cool progression of tree and plant life as you descend, then later climb out of the canyon. Streams and wildlife on the canyon floor. The trailhead is at about 8,100', the canyon floor is at about 7,600' and there's a bit of climbing in between, so it's a tough loop but not as rough as running the steeps of Atalaya. When I was last there we casually ran it out in ~75min, although the climb out had us suffering.

Apache Canyon stream (courtesy of Mike Holdsworth)
A trail connector in the canyon bottom will take you up and east to Glorieta Baldy, which is maybe an additional 3-4mi one way. The ambitious might even stretch that route for a top-out on Thompson Peak. Most folks familiar with this trail will bike Glorieta Baldy from the south, then descend this section from the watchtower and make their way back to town once reaching the trailhead. There are also trail options to the north of the trailhead that tour back behind Atalaya and Sierra Pelada. Most are the adventure-type rather than picturesque-singletrack. Sadly I have no good photos of the trail or surrounding area, thwarted by high winds and snow when I was mapping this out in April. Perhaps this can add to the unknown mystique of this little gem.

Related Posts:
 - Glorieta Baldy
 - Eldorado Preserve Trails
 - Barbaria Trail Loop

View Apache Canyon Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Monday, June 2, 2014

Trail Work - Arroyo Chamiso Trail

Arroyo Chamiso at Camino Carlos Rey (May 6, 2014)
Took the little one out for a run recently, cruising the Arroyo Chamiso trail since it's flat and right out the back door. In a stroke of irony, the paved trail I never run on because there's a perfectly runnable arroyo 30ft to the south, suddenly became unpaved. It seems the oldest trail in Santa Fe's urban trail system (1994) was scheduled for repair and re-paving.

I've noticed several other ongoing projects including erosion control at Arroyo Chamiso and Gail Ryba (at the underpass), erosion control on the Rail Trail at the county line (I-25 underpass), and the improvements at the La Tierra underpass to Ortiz Park.

I know a new bike lane is scheduled to be added to Old Santa Fe Trail soon (El Gancho Way to Zia Rd), and the missing stretch of the Arroyo Chamiso at Cerrillos Rd will be added soon along with the new business and residential developments going in there. There's also ongoing planning and design work on a proposed new alignment for the Arroyo Hondo Trail south of town (NM 14 to Richards Rd) which will eventually close a loop with Arroyo Chamiso and the Rail Trail. Good stuff.
Brand new trail - Arroyo Chamiso (May 25)
Related Posts:
 - Arroyo Chamisos Bike Trail Underpass (2012)
 - Trail Improvements on Winsor and Galisteo Basin (2013)
 - Santa Fe Rail Trail Re-Imagined

View Arroyo Chamiso Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map


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