Monday, October 21, 2013

Hiking Atalaya Trail (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Hike: Atalaya Trail
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (it's a steep one!)
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 5.5 miles from Ponderosa Ridge parking lot
Time (Round Trip): 3 hours
Elevation: 7,540 feet to 9,121 feet

It's hard for me to type up this post, because it will be the last Santa Fe hike I post (at least in the foreseen future). My time in Santa Fe has come to an end. I loved every second of it and just wish we'd had more time to explore there! However, I think we did a great job of seeing as much as we could while we were there. One of our last hikes was Atalaya Trail. It's a popular one because it's so easy to get to and has incredible views of the city. Don't let its popularity fool you into thinking it is easy, because it's not. This trail is steep! However, the views at the top are totally worth it. 

We started at the entrance to Ponderosa Ridge neighborhood. There is limited parking here. The other option is at St. John's College, but that adds 1.5 miles to the hike. At the end of this post, I'll share driving directions to the Ponderosa Ridge trailhead. 

The beginning of this hike is a bit unique. We walked through the neighborhood to get to the trail. The signage was really good for the hike, so it would have been difficult to get lost. We followed the sign that directed us into the neighborhood and then took the first left up a dirt road. After passing under some power lines, we saw the staircase in the picture below off to the left. We took the staircase to continue the trail (Trail 170). 

After about 10-15 minutes of walking, we came across options for the "easier route" or the "steeper route". We decided to take the easier route up, and the steeper route on the way back, and I recommend this to others. The steep route is super steep, and the easier route was still plenty steep. However, the easier route is a bit longer, so since the sun was getting close to setting, we opted for the steep route on the way back. 

On the easier route, we came to a sign that read "Atalaya Lookout Trail" and turned left to stay on Trail 170. We then came across another Trail 170 sign  and took a left there as well to stay on the trail. This section of the trail is pretty flat and along a low ridge for a few minutes. Then we met up with the "steeper route" trail and continued right up the trail. The rest was very steep with plenty of switchbacks. The coolest thing about this trail is we had views of the city several times when the trees opened up to the west.

When we reached the ridge on Atalaya, there was another Trail 170 sign at which we turned left to head north on the ridge. Soon we came across several great spots to sit and have a snack and look out on the soon-to-be setting sun. I really wanted to see the snow on the mountains to the north, because I knew they had gotten snow the previous night. I kept walking north until the trail started going down. I didn't get any wide expanse views, but I did see the snow!

 Snow on the mountains from the night before

Like I said previously, we took the steep route back down. The signs made it really easy to follow the trail and it didn't take very long to get back down to the car.

I am really going to miss Santa Fe, even though it's nice to be back in our home. I hope we can adventure out there again some day, because there is so much more to see!

Driving Directions to Ponderosa Ridge parking

1. Take Alameda Street West from town.
2. Alameda turns into Canyon. Continue on Canyon Road.
3. Canyon turns into Camino Cabra. Continue on Camino Cabra.
4. Turn left on Calle Picacho.
5. Turn left on Camino de Cruz Blanca. Continue on this until you see the gate for Ponderosa Ridge. You cannot go into the community, and a few parking spots are on the left. If you can't find a spot, I think you have to go to St. John's and hike from there.

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