Chamisa Trail

Distance: 4.3 miles (out and back)

Water: Tesuque Creek

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Trail Conditions: Good/Excellent


This short hike begins along Hyde Park Road, just a stone’s throw from Santa Fe. It offers a pleasant, if not all too scenic walk through ponderosa and fir forest, ending at Tesuque Creek along the Winsor Trail. The walk is well-suited for a post-work outing or an otherwise lazy weekend day.


Directions:

From Santa Fe, follow Bishops Lodge Road to the junction with Hyde Park Road. Turn right and follow Hyde Park Road. About .5 miles past mile marker 6, a large parking lot will be on your left. Park here.


From the parking area, there are two options to begin the hike. The main Chamisa Trail – Trail #183 is to the right and climbs up on the east side of the canyon. The alternate route leads up the bottom of the canyon. Although either route is fine, I prefer to go up the alternate trail and return on the main Chamisa Trail.

The alternate trail leads up the bottom of the canyon. The canyon closes in after the first quarter and you’ll pass a section that was washed out during 2018 monsoon storms. The trail continues to follow the bottom of the canyon for a few yard hundred yards further before reaching a section where the main trail climbs extremely steeply up an embankment.

To avoid this, remain in the bottom of the wash, which does occasionally hold water. After less than a hundred yards, the two trails reconnect and continue to follow the dry wash upstream. Eventually, the trail leaves the bottom of the canyon and climbs up to the east (right) and contours up to a small saddle where you’ll rejoin the main Chamisa Trail, coming in from the right.

There’s another trail that continues up the ridge to the left, but go over the saddle and drop into the next side canyon to remain on the Chamisa Trail. After a single switchback, the trail willow follow the bottom of this canyon downstream toward Tesuque Creek.

This section of trail is much wetter and more lush than the other canyon, so look out for wildflowers and strawberries, which dot the canyon floor. The trail is obvious and in good condition all the way down. Toward the bottom, there’s a narrow choke point, before it opens into a small meadow and wraps around a knoll before hitting the Winsor Trail – Trail #254.

This is a good  place to take break and enjoy the rushing sound of the creek before heading back. After completing the one mile stretch back to the saddle, go left to stay high above the canyon and follow the main Chamisa Trail.

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The trail will weave in and out of small side canyon, leading down into them and climbing slowly out of them. There are a few view points over the canyon below, but more than the scenery, enjoy the trek through pretty ponderosa forest.

In the final half mile, you’ll pass a trail sign and then descend steeply to the parking lot where you began.

 

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