September run on the Camino Real Trail!
During the month of September you are invited to do this cool run on a portion of the thousands of mile long Camino Real. This was a major route from Mexico City to northern New Mexico. Today you can enjoy parts of the route by foot, bike or horse back.
The run is on a section of the trail from the Headquarters Well Trailhead to the Dead Dog Trailhead and back on the mesa top. Run it on your own time and post your results on Facebook or Instagram
To follow the course download the Avenza app or use another device to load this map to stay on course. It is easy to find your way if you don't want to use this sort of technology. Start at the Headquarters Trailhead and follow the single track trail north toward the Dead Dog Trailhead. It is 5 miles to this junction. From here turn left around the permanently placed bike pump and head up the steep and rocky trail. It seems like more cows than people use this to get to the top. If you are lucky you will see some of the wild horses that roam along the top of the escarpment here.
The way back is along two track (parallel single track) on Forest Road 24F and then Forest Road 24 to the start.
Here is a map to the Headquarters Well Trailhead from 599 at the South Meadows exit. Head south on the frontage road to Caja del Rio Road. Take this road past the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, past the Municipal Recreation Center, past Marty Sanchez Golf Course to County Road 62. This gravel road changes to Forest Road 24 at the Headquarters Well Trailhead. This is where the fun begins.
October run best enjoyed just before sunset!
This month take a spin on a trail you may not have ever visited but have been near many times. Start this 6ish mile loop at the Little Tesuque Trailhead between mile markers 5 and 6 on Hyde Park Road (NM 475).
The first 1.3 miles are a bit rugged, trees down and a seasonal stream to jump over, but it is a great way to warm up. It does make a better warm up than a sprint to the finish so I recommend running this counter-clockwise. Follow the "trail" uphill paralleling the roadway. You will feel like you are very remote except for the car noise which may sound like they are in your back pocket.
After this cool section of trail cross over the road at the Chamiza Trailhead parking lot and follow the heavily used "upper" trail to the saddle. Once you gain this landmark follow the Saddleback Trail westerly into the sunset (if you started about 2 hours before sunset). There are several trails intersecting here and they are all good, one leads down to the Winsor Trail, another up to the Borrego/Bear Wallow trailhead and the other back down to the Chamiza trailhead.
Saddleback trail takes you down through towering ponderosa pine on rolling but mostly downhill single track. You will have lots of great views of the setting sun as you make your way to the Juan Trail. A left turn takes you to the Little Tesuque Trail and to where you started.
Diablo 3-3-3 (it's only half as devilish as you think)
This month your visit may give you a devil of a time. It is a roughly triangular shaped loop starting at the Diablo Canyon trailhead. Before you start stop and marvel at the sheer cliffs rising from the sandy arroyo bed. Each leg of the triangle is roughly 3 miles long with a bit of bonus mileage to round it up to 10 miles. You will climb a little more than 1,300 feet through a diverse topography. You will get to experience sandy arroyos, jeep trails, wild horse tracks and some steep bushwhacking. Please read this description carefully to decide if the last mile will be something you want to attempt.
Start your run rock hoping and sand running through Diablo Canyon. This iconic landscape is featured in many movies and TV shows! Follow the arroyo for 3 miles all the way to the Rio Grande. Make sure you go all the way so your dogs can get a drink.
As you gaze at the flowing river, turn to the left or down stream, you will see some power lines and a jeep road up a small hill. This is the start of your next 3ish mile leg. Climb up to the riverview next to the rusted iron pipe fence under the powerlines. Follow this jeep track as it winds and contours down canyon to the bottom of the Soda Springs trail. This section ends as the jeep two track takes you to the river for one last doggy water stop.
The next leg climbs the cliff. The single track trail up is in pretty good shape thanks to the herd of wild horses that use this access to the river. This trail climbs nearly 1,000 feet over loose scoria and blocky basalt to the top of the mesa. At the top after some rocky sections you find a smoother two track. Veer left when you reach Intersections.
After about 2 miles of rolling and often open landscape look for an arroyo that feeds a canyon bordered by basalt cliffs which you can see ahead and to your left. This is where the acrophobics will need to focus on footing and not rush past the awesome vistas. Follow the now dry drainage to the pour-over that feeds the canyon. Look at the views but don't fall off. Now the fun begins. You will bushwhack and climb up the rocky hillside to the flat top of the mesa. A brief traverse of this flat area will bring you to the top of a steep drop overlooking the parking lot of Diablo Canyon where you started. You will need to carefully pick your way down this descent. It is steep but there are plenty of slopes that easily avoid any cliffs or drops. Take extreme care, your legs may be tired from the run and will be screaming while making your way down.
A little bit of overused and a bit of underused trails
This month's run features a seldomly used connector trail between the Chamisa trail and the Borrego/Bear Wallow trailhead. On some maps this trail is called the Gabaldon trail. It connects to the Hyde State Park trails for a brief time where you will find some picnic tables that have been sitting under big Ponderosa pines for many decades, judging from the graphitti carved into the table-tops.
Start your tour at the Chamisa trailhead. This wildly popular trail has tons of visitors so be thankful that you only need to use it for a bit over a mile to reach the saddle. At this junction you can either go straight down to the Winsor trail, turn left to follow the Saddleback trail or turn right up the ridge following a faint tread along the ridge top. This is the way you want to go today, away from the overused trails along this underused trail. If there is snow cover, this is a bit harder to follow but not impossible. If it's dry you can plainly see the way to go. Nevertheless if you have the map loaded onto your navigational device you should be all set.
This trail climbs up and over several high spots. The views from these spots is really worth taking a minute to enjoy while allowing your heart rate to stabilize. You will come to a couple of intersections where the trails descend to Hyde State Park, but don't be tempted, stay left and follow the high ground.
After thoroughly enjoying the up you are treated to a long and steepish descent to the Borrego/Bear Wallow trailhead. Head down the also very popular trail toward the mega-popular Winsor Trail. If you take the left fork and follow the Bear Wallow trail your total trip will be about 8.5 miles, if you tak ethe right fork on the Borrego side your trip will be closer to 10 miles.
Once you reach the Winsor by either of these routes continue downhill on the Winsor trail to the intersection with the Chamisa trail. Turn left and climb up to the saddle where you can take either the way you came up or the alternative route back to where you started your adventure.
A run across the Caja Del Rio Plateau
This month's run features a cross country course, literally. No trails, no roads (if you dare) just a rocky knob on the ridge top to guide you. You can see this prominent feature from many places including within the Santa Fe city limits!
Start at the pavilion and toilets at the Headquarters Well Trailhead (red circle on the map) on the edge of the Caja Del Rio plateau. Spot the highest knob on the ridge (also a red circle on the map) almost due west, then run straight for it. If your navigational skills are good the out and back trip will be 7.5 miles at least, probably closer to 8 miles as a minimum.
There are roads and cow trails criss-crossing your path follow these for a while now and then but don't lose sight of the rocky knob. Keep your course for the top of that peak. Lot's of the terrain is open brushland, as you work your way up it gets a little thicker, trees and rocks everywhere. Just keep going up. You may feel like you are really in a remote area. I have included a map you can download and even plug into a navigational application like Avenza. This map shows some roads that circle the turn around spot and will add some miles to your trip.
Before you head back to where you have come from, look north to the next peak (look at the photos below and notice the red arrows). Now look at the map for the black circle. This is a geologic feature you do not want to miss! But don't fall in.
The East Canyon route is a very rocky "road" shown as a black squiggly line on the map. If you follow this route you will enjoy more than 13 miles of fun stuff, but it will feel longer. Nevertheless if you have the map loaded onto your navigational device you should be all set.
This is an out and back run across open country. There are rocks, cactus and trees to keep you focused. If you are really lucky you will see one of the herds of wild horses that roam the Caja.
Directions to the Headquarters Well Trailhead: From the western 599 frontage road take Caja Del Rio Road to County Road 62 (this is the first left after the city's Marty Sanchez golf course). Follow this dirt road for about 1 mile. At the cattle guard it becomes forest road 24. The toilet and pavillion should be visible through the trees bit to the left as you cross the cattle guard. Park here, look west for the knob start your adventure.