Spring is a great time to go hiking in Santa Fe and hundreds of people do just that each week. The Santa Fe region (and beyond!) attracts hikers of all levels as there is an abundance of great trails to choose from.
No matter what trail you encounter, you are bound to experience breathtaking beauty in the form of wildlife and extensive plant life.
If you’re visiting the area and only have a few days to hike, it may be difficult to pick the best trails that work for your schedule and your experience level.
Narrowing down the choices isn’t easy, but we’ve asked expert outdoorsperson Karen Denison, owner of Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing to pick her top 3 hikes for this spring…
1. Slot Canyon Trail at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
A favorite hike among many, you’ll want to get there early to avoid the crowds. This trail will take you up through the canyon and onto the mesa.
You can enjoy great views of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains. This is a good trail for beginner to intermediate hikers to try at any time of the year, although you’ll need to be prepared for high temperatures in the summer and floods after storms.
2. Falls Trail at the Bandelier National Monument
This is another hike that you’ll want to arrive early for as the parking lot fills up quickly! This trail descends 400 feet and covers 1.5 miles as it takes you to the Upper Falls.
This hike is great for hikers of all levels, although there are some steep drop-offs that might bother those who have a fear of heights.
The trail is in great shape, fairly wide, and will offer the chance to see some wildlife along the way. It should be noted that the trail beyond the falls is no longer safe following a flood in 2011.
You can drive yourself to the visitor parking center until May 22nd, after that you’ll need to check the park’s website for shuttle bus requirements.
3. Chamisa Trail
This is a great trail if you’re looking for a good workout that is very close to the city.
Once you’ve made your way to the top you’ll get to follow an easier trail down towards the Big Tesuque Creek basin.
Here you’ll have the chance to rest in a very green environment. There are wildflowers and meadows and you’ll meet plenty of other hikers, mountain bikers and runners along the way.
What is the Weather Like Year-Round in Santa Fe?
The majority of tourists visit Santa Fe during the summer months (typically June through August) so they can enjoy the warm weather and copious amount of local arts events and outdoor hiking opportunities.
There is typically very little humidity and monthly precipitation, so be sure to pack for warmer, drier weather if you are visiting in the summer – this includes bringing a powerful sunscreen (especially if you’ll be hiking!).
If you’re visiting during the winter months, bring warmer clothes and dress in layers, as evening temperatures can reach below freezing.
The majority of the trails in Santa Fe are open year-round and available for hikes. In the event of severe weather, check your trail’s website or call their office for their recommendations as to whether it’s safe to proceed that day.
Despite the popularity of tourism during the summer months, you should be able to find peace and tranquility during your hikes at any of the trails above if you time it right.
Many recommend early-morning hikes to beat the crowd. All trails are meticulously kept up to ensure a safe and enjoyable pathway while protecting and enhancing the local flora and fauna.
What Should I Bring For Hiking Trails in Santa Fe?
If you are a seasoned hiker, you should already have the basics of what to bring for any hiking excursion – including ones you plan in Santa Fe.
The time of year you visit will determine what type of clothing you should bring, as you may get hot during the warmer summer months, but could get cold in the chilly winter months.
Otherwise, here are some of the essentials you should bring for a hiking trip:
- Hiking boots/shoes – these will help prevent blisters and keep your feet and legs supported on the rough terrain
- Water bottle – No matter what time of year you hike, it is extremely important that you remain hydrated throughout the duration of your hike
- Map & Compass – To ensure you are staying on the right path of your hiking trail, you should always have a map & compass available. You can get local hiking trail maps from individual parks, or you can ask the host of your Santa Fe B&B if they have any available
- Walkie Talkies/Cell Phone – If you want to go device-free on your nature hike, be sure to have some method of communication if you get separated from your group.
- Sunscreen – While there are plenty of shady areas of local Santa Fe trails, you want to make sure your skin is protected from harmful UV rays.
- Hiking Backpack – You should bring a sturdy backpack that was made specifically for hiking, as regular backpacks do not have the carrying capacity nor number of pockets necessary to hold all of your hiking gear.
- First Aid Kit – In case of emergencies, it’s recommended that you or someone in your group provide a first aid kit for medical needs.
Being prepared is critical for your health and wellness while going on these outdoor excursions. Hiking in Santa Fe can be done by beginners, but not by those who are unprepared.
Be sure to ask hiking enthusiasts for their recommendations on their favorite hiking products, and break in your boots/shoes prior to going on your first hike!
Should I Get a Hiking Guide?
Hiking guides are a great decision whether you’re going on your first hike or your hundredth. They can provide so much knowledge about the surrounding area and the wildlife you encounter along the way.
This can be especially interesting for younger children who will be able to learn a lot during this experience.
Additionally, a hiking guide can be a soothing presence for those who are venturing out for the first time, as hiking a long trail can be a bit intimidating.
You can more quickly progress from a beginner to an intermediate hiker with the assistance of a guide if you’re looking to increase the difficulty of your hikes during your stay.
For the more advanced hikes, it can be reassuring to have an expert alongside to help you whenever you need it.
While most of the trails can be self-guided without too many issues, just imagine how much more interesting it could be if you had your own private hiking guide!
If you’re new to the area you’ll especially want to consider this as your guide can provide a rich history of the region and will also be able to take you on many lesser-known hikes.
To learn more about Outspire and the wide range of hiking opportunities visit www.outspire.com.
As always, if you’re in need of accommodations during your Santa Fe visit, we welcome you to our Santa Fe B&B anytime of year!