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Meandering in the Santa Fe National Forest

Meandering in our back yard – The Santa Fe National Forest

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Quote by John Muir

John Muir is also known as the “Father of the National Parks” as he was an early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the Unites States. This resounds with me as this Sunday, August 25 marks the 103rd birthday of the US National Park Service. On Sunday, you can enter any of the 61 national parks for free. Here is the link for more information. What a beautiful gift for those who enjoy being in the outdoors.

Recently, I spent the morning meandering in the Santa Fe National Forest. I say meandering instead of hiking because I like to make my way up the mountain, but take time to enjoy the flowers, the running water and the views. Also, meandering allows me time for that photo I want to share when I return home.

Just a quick 30 minute drive up the mountain road brings me to the Santa Fe Ski Area and the Winsor Trail – where my travels begin. The Winsor trail begins in Tesuque and winds deep into the Pecos Wilderness, but I won’t be going that far today. The trail is named after the Winsor family who owned a ranch in Pecos in the late 1880’s and packed supplies and game to Santa Fe on horses via this trail. Upon our return down, I see a palomino and rider about to take their turn in the wilderness. What a wonderful sight.

To begin - the trail switchbacks for approximately 30 minutes as my husband and I climb through the pine forest. Take the time to see the myriad of forest animals peeking through the trees; watching you and sometimes sounding the alarm of your impending ascent.  I enjoy watching the squirrels and chipmunks scamper to and fro - unsure of whether to run or stay in hope of a shared trail mix by those walking about.

Once you reach the wooden fence, you have the option to continue through which leads all the way to Santa Fe Baldy and other trails, or you can turn to the right and follow the wooden fence (and then barbed wire) to the first outcropping on the way to Raven’s Ridge. Today’s journey leads us to Raven’s Ridge and views of the surrounding mountain peaks. This part of the trail is steeper and I am happy to pause to snap the perfect photo and catch my breath.  We meander for another 20-30 minutes and reach the rock outcropping for a perfect spot to view the expanse before us, drink some water and see some more wildlife.

Here we met a couple and their 11 year old son from Rochester, New York. They were pausing to take in the view and catch their breath since they weren’t quite use to the almost 11,000’ elevation. We offered directions and they followed us to the first peak. Here we parted ways and they headed down to the ski hill and back to the parking lot and we headed on towards Deception Peak. I’ll share that story another time, as I feel the 3-5 miles that it takes to get to the outcropping or first peak are plenty for someone new to Santa Fe. For a 3 mile hike, just follow the instructions to the first outcropping and then come back the way you came. But, I also suggest using an app such as alltrails.com or at the front desk we have the Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area hiking book which is a wonderful resource.

A gentle reminder to bring the following minimal items with you on any outing (you can always bring more):

Water (our app said we should have consumed 50 ounces of water by the end of our 5 hour hike)

Sun Hat – our sun is quite intense here

Snacks – Be sure to have some trail mix or goodies along for energy

Raincoat – The weather can turn very quickly – even when the weather app says no rain

Sturdy shoes

First Aid Kit

Wishing you happy trails and a very happy birthday to our US National Park Service.

 Deb Swanson /Dir. Of Sales & Marketing

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