One of the best aspects of living in Northern New Mexico is being near so many beautiful, diverse places. And Hiking is one of the best ways to see the beauty up close and personal. You can experience a variety of landscapes, from alpine lakes and desert canyons to sandy arroyos and mountain ridges. Now is the time to get out and explore the seemingly untouched New Mexico landscape with these best short hikes in Santa Fe!
#1 ATALAYA MOUNTAIN
This is one of Santa Fe’s most popular and well-known, out-and-back trails. The trail skirts an arroyo full of aromatic piñon and juniper trees before climbing into the midst of sweet-smelling ponderosa pines and onto the summit of Atalaya Mountain. The higher you hike, the steeper the terrain, until you reach a more level area, which provides breathtaking views of Santa Fe and the Pecos Wilderness on the other side.
#2 SUN MOUNTAIN
This very popular out-and-back trail in the Santa Fe foothills starts out rather flat and adjacent to private homes. Near the top, you come upon a large, smooth rock crop that cascades down like a granite waterfall. Keep going up a fairly steep and rocky staircase and through a pink and white granite crux to the summit. You will be rewarded with beautiful views of the Ortiz and Sandia Mountains to the south and southwest and Jemez Mountains to the west. Some road-side parking is available, but no dedicated parking area. Leashed dogs are welcome.
#3 PICACHO PEAK
Discover great views of mountains, animal life, and wildflowers on this favorite out-and-back trail. You will find three lookout points along the trail scenic views of Santa Fe.. Most of the trail is shaded, but there are some exposed areas as you get near the top. Leashed dogs are welcome.
#4 SANTA FE CANYON PRESERVE
This loop trail at the top of Upper Canyon Road can feel like it’s hidden in plain sight. It’s just minutes from downtown, but it feels a world apart. In fact, many locals don’t even know about this short but spectacular trail, which happens to be one of our favorite places for finding some solitude in the city. This conservatory is full of lush vegetation, cattail-encircled beaver ponds (we’ve yet to spot the beavers), and plenty of shady spots under the trees to take in views of the water – a rarity in the high desert! Dogs are not permitted.
#5 SIERRA DE NORTE / DALE BALL NORTH
One of our favorite short hikes has something for everyone. This well-marked loop trail meanders through piñon and juniper forest providing moderate shade on sunny days, which are so prevalent in Santa Fe. This trail is a real treat for anyone who hasn’t experienced pinon trees up close. You’ll relish the fantastic mountain views of the Sangre de Cristos to the northeast, the Jemez in the West, and the Sandias to the south. There are also options to customize the duration of this trek if for various time allowances and fitness levels. Leashed dogs are welcome and there is ample parking.
#6 CHAMISA TRAIL
This is a popular and fun loop-trail. We recommend hiking clockwise (left trail up) as the steep, rocky riverbed terrain is easier on the incline than on the decline. You will start in a Ponderosa forest, traverse the Saddleback with some scrub oak, and then drop down through piñon and juniper. The creek offers rich, green, mossy sections with plenty of deciduous trees and the constant gurgle of running water. We also love the variety of micro-climates along the way. Leashed dogs are welcome.
#7 TESUQUE CREEK
This nice out-and-back trail follows a pretty creek with some rocky and narrow points, and plenty of shade. While the trail is not well marked, it is easy to follow and borders private homes. What’s more, you can easily make the hike as short or long as you wish. Dogs and horses use this trail and there is very limited parking at the trailhead. We suggest combining this hike with a meal or beer at the funky Tesuque Village Market.
#8 HYDE PARK CIRCLE
At the beginning of this loop trail, you will gain almost 1,000 feet in elevation, but then levels off as you hike along the ridge line. From the ridge, you will be able to see the old Santa Fe Ski Basin. In fact, some of the structures and tow ropes can still be seen across the canyon. At the summit, reap the fruits of your labor with views on both sides of the ridge. Eastward offers views up the canyon toward Ski Santa Fe, while the westward view extends across the desert north of Santa Fe to the Jemez Mountains. Leashed dogs are welcome.
#9 RIO EN MEDIO FALLS
This out-and-back trail begins at the end of a narrow country road. Some spots are steep and rocky, and the stream crossings can be challenging the higher you go, especially if you are afraid to get your feet wet. The payoff is worth it as you feast your eyes on a small waterfall that is very refreshing on a hot Summer day. Dogs are welcome, but parking is limited.
For the inside scoop on Santa Fe trails, request our exclusive hiking guides!
SANTA FE LODGING
Turn your hiking adventure into the ultimate getaway! After trekking these best short hikes in Santa Fe, you can relax and unwind at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear bed and breakfast. Cuddle up in front of the kiva fireplace in one of our unique and cozy guest rooms. Stroll the terraced gardens. Admire the history throughout the estate. Plus, each morning you will be able to fuel up before hitting the trails with our delicious multi-course breakfast! Book now.