Monday, April 19, 2010

Day Hikes in Santa Fe

It's getting to be that time of year when short hikes around Santa Fe are particularly enjoyable. My overweight Rottweiler and Chiweenie are chirping at the door to go.

The Dale Ball trails are a well-maintained system of trails that run along the Sangres. My favorite section is above Sierra del Norte where they have a parking lot and the trail loops nicely around two foothills. It takes me almost exactly an hour to walk the loop, which includes spectacular views of the Santa Fe basin.

Rio en Medio is a one-way trail at the back end of Chupadero. When a friend first took me back there, I kept imagining the movie "Deliverance" and wondered if we were going to make it back to civilization--but it's really not that far. From the Plaza, 285 north to any of the Tesuque exits. Route 592 runs off the main drag to the east. You follow that to the end, which from the turn off is probably only 15-minutes. The beauty of Rio en Medio is the lush landscape and the flowers. It's most likely you'll get your feet wet because you cross the stream ten or twelve times before arriving at a small pool with a 2-story water fall. Be prepared to be awed by an oak tree canopy, towering ponderosa pines, a field of Rugosas (wild roses) and a glade of purple, waist high thistles. The masses of iridescent blue butterflies complete this picture perfect experience.

Tent Rocks is a national park about 45-minutes south west of Santa Fe. This is my go-to hike for visiting out-of-towners. The "tents" or rock formations have have been worn by the wind and look like giant spires against the azure blue sky. It is truly spiritual. You wend your way through a small canyon and then there is a short climb to the top of a ridge. Following my tri-athlete sister, I once made it from the parking lot to the top in 45-minutes but it usually takes about an hour and fifteen. This is a popular park so it can get busy but everyone is so taken with the beauty of this place that they are usually in a serene mood as you saunter amongst the sandstone finials.

So whatever your taste: Panoramic, sylvan or just plain spectacular, we have something for everyone.