High Desert Sun

Hiking, Biking & Horseback Riding
  |  Gorp.com


There are numerous places for day hikes or backpacking trips outside Santa Fe in the Pecos Wilderness of Santa Fe National Forest. Among the challenges includes a climb to Lake Katherine.

While in Los Alamos, stop in at the Chamber of Commerce for suggestions on short hikes into the wilderness that surrounds the city and its satellite community, White Rock. Or just enjoy the spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo to the east and the Jemez mountains to the west as you wend your way to Bandelier National Monument. There are terrific hiking and camping opportunities in the Jemez mountains (another part of the Santa Fe National Forest) as well.

From Taos, hikers head for the high country north of town that is part of Carson National Forest. It includes Wheeler Peak in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness area at 13,161 feet the tallest in the state. Day hikers have a choice of several Wheeler-area treks, ranging from gentle to tough, in the direction of Wheeler Peak from Taos Ski Valley. Both the Bull of the Woods Pasture Trail (#90) and the Williams Lake Trail begin from the base of the ski lifts or from Kachina Peak lift in the ski resort.

After a hike, you might consider a leisurely soak in one of the Taos-area hot springs.

Horseback Riding, Pack Trips

A variety of outfitters in both Santa Fe and Taos have stables where you can rent horses or join an escorted ride through the majestic mountain scenery and on dry arroyos (creek beds.) An increasing number offer multiday pack trips into the wilds on horseback or on foot with llamas as pack animals. Consult the local tourist offices for names and numbers.

Mountain & Road Biking

It doesn't take long to escape the city streets of Santa Fe or Taos on a mountain bike. Just outside Santa Fe is the Caja del Rio trail, a relatively easy double-track ride which starts at the Forest Service boundary. Another ride close to town is on Glorieta Mesa, also part of the Santa Fe National Forest.

From Taos, you can take mountain bike jaunts beginning at the towns of either Arroyo Hondo or Arroyo Secco, including a ride to the Rio Grande Gorge, a portion of the river that has carved a deep canyon through the high desert. Mountain bike trails southeast of Taos in Carson National Forest include several relatively easy routes on cross-country ski paths in Amole Canyon. The Trails Illustrated bicycling map of the Taos region shows numerous routes and is available in local bookstores and bike shops.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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