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August 1st, 2014 | 10:15am

Summer and Fall Hiking in the Santa Fe Area

Taking in the great outdoors is an activity not to be missed when visiting Santa Fe. It’s easy to find your way to one of the many in-town trails, and the quick 45 minute drive up to the Santa Fe ski basin will put you at some of the most picturesque trail heads in Northern New Mexico. Once the snows have melted at the higher elevations and the wild flowers start to bloom, there is no better place to be than the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico. Temperatures are usually ten degrees cooler at the top and there are a variety of beautifully groomed trails to choose from.

While we always love a day spent on the popular Aspen Vista, Chamisa, Borrego, or Dale Ball Trails, from time to time we like to take the road less traveled. So we reached out to our Loretto Curators and local outdoor experts, Sue and Georges Mally from Santa Fe Walkabouts, for the inside scoop on few trails off the beaten path. Below you’ll find two of their favorite hidden gems, perfect for exploring during the summer and fall seasons. So pack your hiking boots, grab some water and prepare for an unforgettable al fresco adventure in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Santa Fe

Alamos Vista – located near the Aspen Vista picnic area, about 13 miles up on Hyde Park Road, this is an exceptional hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Until about 2 years ago, this trailhead was not marked and utilized mostly by locals. These days, there are probably a few more hikers on the trail but it’s still a wonderful and peaceful hike.

Round trip, the Alamos Vista hike is about 3 to 3.5 miles in length.  The trailhead starts at 10,000 feet and takes you up to 11,200 feet.  It is a moderately challenging hike as you follow the trail through a beautiful grove of aspen trees, out to Carl’s Meadow. and then through a forest of impressive conifers to the peak. The views from the top are stunning – 360-degree views of the mountains of New Mexico and, on a clear day, you can see the mountains in southern Colorado.


This hike is highly recommended in the summer months (TIP: go early before the possibility of afternoon monsoon rains, and always remember to take plenty of water) and particularly in the fall when the aspens are turning color.  

Santa Fe Walkabouts offers the Alamos Vista hike as a 4-hour excursion, from pick up to drop off, giving hikers plenty of time to reach the Quad and to take pictures along the way. For those hiking at a faster pace, and not affected by the elevation, the trail continues to Tesuque Peak, which is at 12,043 feet.  Enjoy the hike! 


Hamilton Mesa – set in the Pecos Wilderness, this is a glorious hike in the summer when the wild irises are in full bloom and also in the fall when the aspens are a beautiful golden color. 

The drive out to the trailhead is about 45 to 50 miles one way, with the last portion being rather rugged, requiring a high-clearance vehicle.  Starting at Iron Gate Campground, the trail takes you through a forest of spruce and fir, and then aspens, to an expansive meadow with spectacular views of the Truchas Peaks and the Santa Fe Ski Basin area.  It’s a great place to stop, enjoy a picnic and return, or continue on one of two more demanding hikes.

 The hike to Hamilton Mesa is about 7 to 8 miles round trip and relatively easy as you make your way from about 9,400 feet to 10,200 feet. It does require some planning since the drive to Iron Gate Campground will take you about 1.5 hours, one way.  Allocate about 4 to 5 hours for the hike, with time to relax and soak in the views. Pack a lunch and take plenty of drinking water.  If you’re looking for solitude and breathtaking alpine views, we highly recommend Hamilton Mesa in the Pecos Wilderness.


*Sue and Georges Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts work closely with the Inn and Spa at Loretto as outdoor curators, offering their insight and expertise into navigating Santa Fe’s hiking trails and cultural monuments.

Find out more about our Loretto Curators. Click here

Posted by Sarah Sims

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