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Snowshoeing and Hiking in Santa Fe

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.” Andy Goldsworthy.

I love this quote! It embodies how I feel when I am getting ready to head up to the mountain after a fresh powder of snow. My energy level rises and I am a bit euphoric at the mere thought of getting my snow boots and mittens on. Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would get all bundled up to go outside and just couldn’t wait for the final scarf and hat to be pulled on? The anticipation was just too much. Well, I am thrust back to that very special time when I get ready for snowshoeing in the Santa Fe National Forest.

Snow shoeing and “hiking in the snow” are one of the easiest and most fun activities that can be done in Santa Fe's backyard. If you are visiting and need to rent a pair of snowshoes, Aspen Sports is nearby and is where I rented my first pair over 10 years ago. The Santa Fe National Forest offers many trails that are easily accessible by car and just a short swoosh through the snow brings you to a quietude that makes you feel extremely present in the moment.

Before I start to share these blissful moments with you, please remember that anytime we venture into the wilderness we must be prepared. Be sure to have adequate clothing, water and snacks, a first aid kit and if at all possible; snowshoe or hike with a buddy. Also, read The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Hiking as it is a great resource for those who might be new to adventuring into the outdoors.

This past Christmas I had family visiting from Florida and it was my nephew’s birthday, as well. He had never been snowshoeing and was very excited to be able to spend his day up on the mountain and to experience this new adventure with his aunt. No one else cared to venture up with us as it was overcast and a bit windy, but we were well prepared, stocked with goodies and fine to go it alone. What an amazing day! After renting snowshoes and poles (highly recommend having poles) for him, we were ready for the 20-30 minute ride to our starting point. We parked at Aspen Vista and readied ourselves for the journey up to where we could see the Quad Ski Lift. This trail is immediately to the left – inside of the gate and is called the Alamos Vista trail. It had recently snowed and the powder was perfect. We stayed on trail for the most part, but ventured to the edge of the mountain a few times to get the perfect photo. At Carl’s meadow we plopped into the snow and made snow angels. Try getting back up when the powder is 6-8 inches thick! It can be quite the endeavor. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the very top and we could see the skiers getting off of the quad lift and heading down to Ski Santa Fe. Our time frame included stopping and catching our breath and of course, taking beautiful photos. And, since it is always easier coming back down; it only took us about an hour. So, for a little less than 3 hours on the mountain, we got an excellent work out and breathtaking photographs to share with everyone. All in all, it was an amazing 19th birthday for my nephew and a wonderful experience for me to share with him.

There are numerous trails, with varying difficulty, for hiking in the snow, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing in Santa Fe. When you visit the Inn of the Governors, we have the Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area books at our front desk that you are welcome to borrow. I am always available for questions on snowshoeing or hiking in Santa Fe and look forward to meeting you on your next visit and sharing some of my favorite spots. I also recommend Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing for a guided tour through our beautiful back country. Please let Scott know that we sent you. Not only will you have a great adventure, but Scott is very knowledgeable about the history and geography of the area, too.

Travel safely, Deb Swanson

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