Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chamisa Trail (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Hike Difficulty: Easy/Moderate (hard to say anything is easy at this altitude, but easy for Santa Fe)
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 5 miles
Time (Round Trip): 2 1/2 - 3 hours
Elevation: 7,950 feet to 8,500 feet

If you are going on one hike in Santa Fe, I wouldn't say this should be the one. However, for a Friday afternoon after I finished up working, it was perfect. Chamisa Trail is pretty mellow as far as trails in the Santa Fe Ski Basin area are concerned, so I enjoyed zoning out and not having to pay too close attention to my footing. My favorite part of the hike was the sound of the wind. This doesn't happen in North Carolina, because there are just too many darn deciduous trees! It's what happens when trees are spread out far enough and you can hear the wind through them. I love it and it reminds me of the Sierras. 

The hike starts on the left side of Artist Road/Ski Basin Road, 5.6 miles from when you turn onto Artist Road. At the trailhead, it looks like there are two trails. Chamisa is the trail that goes up and off to the right of the trailhead sign. I immediately started climbing and continued to climb for 1 1/4 miles. 

Almost as soon as I started the hike, I ran into this beautiful, green snake on the trail. I almost stepped on him!

I came across a large variety of wildflowers on this first part of the trail. I saw fleabane, scarlet gilia, yarrow, and many others I do not know the names of. Towards the top, there were quite a few lupine. I read somewhere that in the spring the ridge is full of them. That would be a sight to see!



After 1 1/4 miles and climbing 600 feet, I reached this intersection. Thankfully, I had my trusty "Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area" book by the Sierra Club, because there were at least 3 different ways I could've gone. The Chamisa Trail continues by turning right at this intersection.

The trail continues downhill until the trail ends in about 1 1/4 miles at the Tesuque Creek and the Winsor Trail. I turned right at the Winsor Trail sign and came across a lovely meadow almost immediately. Off to the left, in front of the big boulder, was a little trail down to the Tesuque Creek. It was rushing pretty good, and I'm guessing that is due to all the rain the Southwest has been getting in the last week. No rain today though!

I followed the trail back, exactly the way I came. It took me right around 2 1/2 hours, because I didn't take too many breaks. It was a terrific afternoon hike and I would definitely do it again. I wish I was going to be here in the spring to see those lovely lupines! (Thinking of fields of lupine makes me think of the incredible assortment of lupine colors in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand.)

Next post: Heading up to Durango, CO for a 3-day weekend tomorrow, so I will no doubt be sharing details and photos when we get back!

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