Hike or bike, walk or run through Santa Fe’s amazing maze of trails

It’s no secret that Santa Fe is a great place to spend time outdoors. With a constantly improving urban trail system and plenty of advocates pushing for even greater trail access within the city and beyond, you could say it is only getting better. Those looking to lace up those boots or strap on that helmet for a deep breath of mountain air have seemingly never-ending options.

Mountain biking in Santa Fe is starting to earn a national reputation. Last year, the city made the cut for USA Today’s top ten mountain bike destinations in the country—thanks, in part, to a dedicated community of riders who are adopting trails, building bridges and promoting our joy-inducing rollercoaster trails to the world.

The Santa Fe Fat Tire Society is the city’s local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (santafefattiresociety.org). With a motto like “any friend of mountain biking is a friend of ours,” you can tell they’ve got your back. Their members regularly report on trail conditions through a Twitter feed (#sftrails), so you know what to expect before even stepping out the door.

Fat Tire Society’s Brent Bonwell recommends the Rail Trail for beginning bikers. The approximately 15-mile run “starts out nice and wide, is rolling and not very technical.” Descending south from the Railyard towards the historic Lamy railroad spur, the trail is paved at first but eventually transforms into a mellow dirt path for bikers looking to go off-road for the first time with “beautiful 360 degree views.” The La Tierra Trails, a 25-mile system in the northwest part of town, also offer dirt paths for newbies looking to get their toes wet, with trickier, twisty single tracks nearby they can “easily work their way up to.”

More advanced riders might be interested in the new La Piedra Trail connection. Joining the Dale Ball network with the Santa Fe National Forest north of town, this route takes you from “the city to the sky,” and fat-tire enthusiasts can jump on the Winsor Trail and ride forever—­or at least until they run out of gas.

Don’t feel the need for speed? Santa Fe’s web of urban trails and surrounding alpine hikes can get you stretching your legs in no time. Tim Rogers should know. He’s the trails program manager at the Santa Fe Conservation Trust and previously consulted the city on the bikeways and trails map. If you want to break a sweat in the city, he recommends the River Trail, a “pure multi-use trail section” that stretches from St. Francis Drive to Frenchy’s Field. It’s a terrific option for kids as the longest stretch of uninterrupted paved trail, so there is no need to dart past high-velocity traffic.

For an easier alpine experience with “amazing views,” Tim recommends Aspen Vista, one of his preferred hikes in the Santa Fe National Forest. A steady uphill hike is complemented by towering aspens, which are especially stunning in the fall when their leaves shimmer in soft golds and yellows.

For complete maps of urban and recreational trails:

updates on trail conditions: