Footman's Haven

From mild to wild, get your walk on at one of Santa Fe's many trails

I walk everywhere. I always have. Santa Fe, where I've lived off and on since 2006 (I wasn't born here all my life), has become a dusty, meandering, hot, cold, sweaty, damp, hilly and very familiar landscape for me. I know it best on foot. I've lived in nearly every corner of town, and I've approached it—and escaped it—from every direction. I think it's the walking that keeps me coming back here; the freedom of the feet is the reason I call this place the Land of Entrapment—I mean, Enchantment.

According to, an online destination for all things walking-related, "A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day." The site, however, recommends that people average 10,000 steps per day, or approximately five miles. Until recently, when I got a boyfriend and started eating a lot of pizza and spending too much time on the couch, I was averaging close to 8-12 miles a day—an early morning jaunt through the Dale Ball Trail system, or a walk past the Frank S Ortiz Dog Park to Old Buckman Road, back down into town, and then home again after work, will do that to you.

Despite becoming a "sedentary person" for a while, now that summertime is here—and almost gone, and I long to wear a bikini at least once before the weather turns—I've been moving my body again. That is, I've been walking, and it feels so good.

The sunlight casts various hues and shades throughout the day, and every one of them is worth experiencing. If you haven't gotten to know Santa Fe on foot, which is to say, slowly, steadily and in the elements, try these routes that will take you over, "under," through and around town.


From the heart of Santa Fe, wander east up Palace Avenue and turn left onto Cerro Gordo. The narrow road is steep, and eventually, it turns dusty. The gradual incline quickly takes you high enough above town to look down onto the river valley. On the left, the Cerro Gordo Park is a good place to pause on a bench, or wander down to the river to stroll along the lush, tree-covered path by the water. If you choose to continue up Cerro Gordo, you can pick up the Dale Ball Trail where the road veers sharply to right. If you choose to wander it, bring a lot of water and follow the well-marked trail signs. The views of town and the mountains are breathtaking.


Option A: From the Plaza, walk west down San Francisco Street. Take a left on Guadalupe and pick up the walkway along the river. After crossing St. Francis, the River Trail picks up and carries you down to Frenchy's Field, where you can keep trudging through the sandy riverbed for an awesome arroyo experience or turn back toward town.

Option B (as in Beer): From Second Street Brewery at the Railyard, follow the rail path until you hit St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road. Cross Cerrillos, immediately cross St. Francis, and pick up the road that runs to the left of the tracks. Just beyond the South Capitol train stop, the Rail Trail picks up and leads directly to the original Second Street Brewery, where you can rest and enjoy a cold beer, or turn right instead and check out Back Road Pizza (turns out, pizza and walking are not mutually exclusive).

Around (360 degrees):

From the Plaza, head west along San Francisco Street until you hit Paseo de Peralta. Veer left and cross St. Francis. Follow Camino de las Crucitas up to the Frank S Ortiz Dog Park. Stop at the park to wander through the arroyos that branch away from it, or take in the view of Santa Fe down below. Then, where the road branches just beyond the park, follow Old Buckman Road. This is an incredible and underappreciated walk (I mean, it goes past the dump). Every mountain range is in sight: The Jemez to the west, the Sandias to the south and the Sangres to the east.

These are just a couple of options for wandering around town. But if you get bitten by the vagabond bug, you'll discover that the changes in light, elevation, season, path and sight are endless.

Author's note: The foot in the above photo is not mine.
Editor's note: It is. Since this article ran, we all pitched in and bought the author some Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Foot Therapy cream. 
Author's note: The editor's confused—his athlete's foot cream went missing. And it wasn't me.
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