Distance: 4 mile loop
Water: No Water
Season: Fall, Winter, Spring
Trail Condition: Off-Trail
This is another trail where getting there is almost as difficult as the trail itself. From Santa Fe, continue on Airport Road west of NM 599. Take a sharp left on County Road 56C 3.3 miles past NM 599.
56C quickly turns to dirt and climbs steeply atop La Bajada Mesa. Remain on 56C for about 5.5 miles. Take a right onto another dirt just after crossing a cattle guard. At this point, you will be driving towards Tetilla Peak. After 1.5 miles, you’ll hit another junction. Find a convenient place to park and leave your car here.
There is no trail to the top of Tetilla Peak, but the wide-open nature of the terrain makes navigation easy. There are essentially three steep pitches separated by two small plateaus required to reach the top.
The first of the two plateau areas features a cholla forest that must be quite pretty if you catch them in bloom. Be careful as you pick your way through the cactus.
The final pitch to the summit is the steepest and most rocky. However, there are some cairns indicating a slightly worn path. Follow these or find your preferred route.
The views from top are spectacular. Looking north, the southern Sangre de Cristo are visible, including Ski Santa Fe. The Sandias appear to the south along with the Rio Grande Valley and Cochiti Lake. Not to be overlooked, don’t take for granted the massive expanse of La Bajada Mesa unfurled below.
There has typically been an ammo can with a trail log on the peak, but on my last trip in December 2017, I could not find it. I don’t know if someone took it or the issue was with me, but hopefully it will reappear on my next venture.
You can return the same way, but I like to extend the hike by leaving the peak going east. From the top, you can see the road that extends north from where you left your car. Head towards that road as close to due East as possible. A small ravine appears as you approach the road and it is best to cross this feature as far north as possible before it has incised too deeply.
As you descend be careful as there are plenty of loose rocks and sharp cactus.
Once you reach the road, turn right and follow it back to your car.