Opinion: Best Descents in Santa Fe

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Now here’s a touchy subject: which trails are most fun….going down. Everyone has their personal favorites, but we figured we would lay out a few of our select. I already here the moans that we didn’t include Winsor on here, but there’s some good reason for it: Winsor is hugely popular and well known and that has lead to a wider, faster trail. While fun, there’s other amazing routes here in Santa Fe that keep us hootin’ and hollerin’ throughout the season.

Best for Tech

Rio En Medio: While not the easiest trail to climb or shuttle (for creating a loop), the backcountry experience and sheer technical nature of this trail makes it the clear winner for this category. If riding down the switchbacks in chutes of rock and loose doesn’t do it for you, then surely the boulder and rock walls will get you grinning. Need more? Do the Santa Fe Smothered Enchilada–Aspen Vista up, Ravens Ridge to REM down. Ravens Ridge will challenge your steep, rocky, tree-laden navigation skills and won’t give you a break. 5-6″ travel on that sucker is recommended.


Best in Town

Dale Ball South: While there’s a handful of great descents in this area, our personal favorite is the quick descent straight down the middle of 40 to 37 to 38 and out to Canyon Road. Referred to by many locals as the ‘Spring Trail’ due to the standing spring halfway down. If you climb via the Atalaya Trail you get great views looking over St. Johns College and out to the Caja and Sandia Mountains. Once you make the turn towards the descent, you look over Santa Fe proper and storm your way down through the trees with views overlooking Upper Canyon and the Santa Fe River area.


Best When You Only Have an Hour

Sidewinder Trail: If you only have an hour after work and need some gravity to brighten your day, the Sidewinder descent is your ticket. Leave your car at the bottom of the Juan Trail (bottom of Nuns Corner on the Ski Basin road) and pedal up the Ski Basin road to the Chamisa trail head. Although the climb up Chamisa is a butt kicker, the payoff is the views from the ridgeline bringing you to the West facing descent down to your car through fun twists, few drops, loose rock, and a quick section next to a barbed wire fence.

Best for Views

Alamo Vista (or Meadow Trail): The climb up Aspen Vista alone has exceptional views, but when it comes to descending, the blistering speed, tight turns and vistas over the aspen stands are tough to beat. Although popular with hikers during the fall color change, this trail is best served during sunset with incredible light filtering between the trees.


Best of the Best

South Boundary Trail: While not in Santa Fe, the SBT descent is one of the best in the Southwest. If you do the whole trail, Heaven on Earth gets top votes for aspen, benchcut, fast awesomeness. Further down past Garcia Park, though, is where the true gold lies. Aside from views of Wheeler and seemingly never ending singletrack, the final descent gets loose, rooty, rocky, and is exceptionally fun.