Monday, September 30, 2013

Borrego/Bear Wallow Trail Loop (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Hike Difficulty: Easy
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 4 miles
Time (Round Trip): 1 1/2 - 2 hours
Elevation: 8,240 - 8,880 feet

From what I've read, Borrego/Bear Wallow Loop is a busy one on the weekends. I can see why. It's a pleasant hike through aspen, fir, and pine trees and along Tesuque Creek (and over it twice). It's short, which makes it a nice after-work hike or Saturday morning hike before you get your things done. Similar to the Chamisa Trail, it's a lovely hike but I wouldn't recommend it as your one Santa Fe hike (if you were only to do one, which I also wouldn't recommend!)

The trailhead is on the left hand side of Artist/Ski Basin Road immediately after driving through Hyde Memorial Park. I set my odometer to zero at the start of Artist Road, and the trailhead was at 8.5 miles. There were more cars parked here than at Chamisa Trail, but it looked like people parked along the road here too. 

The hike starts out downhill on Borrego Trail. In about a half mile, this sign post directed me to either take a slight left for Bear Wallow Trail or a slight right to stay on Borrego Trail. Either way is fine, but I went left (I did the loop clockwise) on Bear Wallow Trail.

Bear Wallow had several lovely aspen groves. I'm assuming due to the unusual amount of rainfall over the last couple weeks, there were several spots along the trail where a creek was making its way right along the trail. It just meant watching my steps and getting off to the side. The trail started to open up after 10-15 minutes of walking, with views of the ridge across the way and lots of sunshine.

 Creek along the trail

The trail crosses the creek here. I have a feeling there may have been better places to cross up or down the creek, and it might be worth looking. Otherwise, I crossed over walking on this log (right hand side of photo below) with a stick in my hand to help steady me. 

Tesuque Creek crossing

Immediately after crossing, I headed up the hill and saw the sign for the Winsor Trail. I turned right here to continue the loop. 

The rest of the hike is uphill, and I found the footing on the Winsor Trail a little annoying. It's all rocks, rather than dirt, and just hard on the feet. (I usually wear running shoes, rather than hiking boots, so that could have been part of the issue.) After 1 mile on the Winsor Trail, I came across the sign below. I turned right on Borrego Trail to finish up the 4 mile loop.

Shortly after turning right, I came to the second Tesuque Creek crossing. I knew it was coming because I was walking along it the whole way up the Winsor Trail. This crossing was a bit easier, thanks to a large, flat, tree trunk across the creek. 

 Creek crossing: You can see the flat tree trunk in the very left of this photo. There are a couple rocks nicely placed in the creek prior to the trunk, so it's a pretty easy spot to cross. 

The rest of the hike was still uphill but quiet. It really was a lovely, short hike to do on an autumn afternoon after work.  It was a perfect temperature and I could hear the wind in the trees. As you can tell, the aspens have just started changing so I'm hoping for some amazing colors by next week! 

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