Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome a Santa Fe-based guest blogger who shares his insights into Santa Fe’s unsurpassed mountain biking scene.
As a pathological cyclist, I’ve logged some pretty amazing rides all across the Wild Wild West. But when my biking buddies want the ultimate recco for a destination, the first words out of my mouth are “Santa” and “Fe.” This place offers the best of all worlds when it comes to riding, with mountain trails both technical and carefree, along with an ideal mixture of ascents and descents—all on “tacky,” well-maintained surfaces. Plus, there’s minimal hiker foot traffic to slow you down. Any cyclist will tell you, that’s big. And here’s what really sets Santa Fe apart: Here, you’ll find pristine wilderness and comfy civilization coexisting in total harmony. So that when your epic ride’s over, the experience is just beginning: Award-winning microbrews, renowned art galleries, mind-blowing cuisine, and more lie a few winding paseos away. Plus, you’ll breathe easier (literally) knowing that The American Lung Association ranked Santa Fe near the top of its list of cleanest-air cities in the U.S. That’s right, my singletrack compadres, Santa Fe’s the whole green chile enchilada.
From Gnarly to Novice, Santa Fe Has a Biking Trail for You
Truth: All of the trails around Santa Fe will satisfy any adventure-craving cyclist. But the four most near and dear to my knobbies are: La Tierra, Chamisa, Windsor and Aspen Vista.
1) La Tierra. This Santa Fe landmark’s 15 miles of trails exhilarate mountain bikers of all skill levels. Bring your headlamp, because the riding’s great day or night.
2) Want to crank it up a notch? The Chamisa Trail (just six miles from downtown Santa Fe) takes you through all the grades. You start with a rolling loop along three different trails, all the way to technical rides through narrow canyons. Pine trees and grassy meadows are Chamisa’s thing. Definitely one of my Santa Fe faves.
3) Adrenaline Junkies, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend: Windsor Trail. You’re on your bike at 10,300 feet, and you’ll plunge through downhill rides along Tesuque Creek, taking your booty straight down 3,400 feet in just 10 miles. Pines, aspens, wildflower-covered meadows … but not for the faint of heart, y’all.
4) Are you ready? I mean, really ready? Alright, let’s head uphill on Aspen Vista. You’ll start at 10,000 feet and grind your way to an elevation over 12,000. Hey, you’ll love the alpine streams and meadows along the way. Then there are the aspens, and stunning views from Tesuque Peak, and the hammock you’ll hallucinate you’re swaying in aimlessly as you pedal higher and higher. This trail is the real deal.
Cycling Paradise and More on Tap at the Bike & Brew Festival
The only thing that compares to an epic ride with friends is hoisting a few good beers afterward. Year round, Santa Fe’s phenomenal craft beer scene is a can’t-miss for hop novices and beer-nerds alike, with the oldest microbrewery in New Mexico (Santa Fe Brewing Company) and Winterbrew, an event that’s quickly become a favorite among locals. But on May 15-17, Santa Fe will host its first-annual Bike and Brew Festival, sponsored by Outside Magazine, Cycle Santa Fe, Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau and the New Mexico Tourism Department. This three-day tour de force of cycling and suds will feature local and nationally renowned brewers, and draw cyclists from around the world for craft beer events, group trail rides, the Santa Fe Century ride for the road bikers, live music, and bike-in film screenings. You can even register for a chance to win a personalized, hand-built bike by O’Leary Built Bikes and a luxury three-night stay at Hotel Santa Fe, The Hacienda and Spa, located in the heart of Santa Fe’s Railyard District. This only-in-Santa-Fe festival promises to be totally off the chain (pun intended), and will further solidify The City Different as a mountain biker’s paradise.
Find Mountain Bike Nirvana in Santa Fe
So now that you’ve got the inside scoop on Santa Fe’s dynamic mountain biking culture, you should be well-equipped to hop on the trails and embrace your inner Santa Fean. Both on and off the bike, Santa Fe offers wonders few places can top: Amazing mountain trails ranging from leg-crushing to laidback; cuisine that’ll rock your world; a thriving craft brew scene; live music galore; and so much more. Maybe that’s why Singletracks.com named Santa Fe as one of the top-10 mountain biking destinations in all of North America. So load up your bike and your appetite for adventure. In Santa Fe, you’re in for the ride of your life.