The best mountain biking and road routes for cyclists in the Santa Fe area

La Tierra Trails north of N.M. 599 offers more than 25 miles of single track. Luis Sanchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

Mountain biking

1. La Tierra Trails: The La Tierra trail system, which offers more than 25 miles of single track, is Santa Fe’s premier spot for mountain bike newbies. Yet, with jumps options, challenging climbs and winding descents, it’s a go-to for experts as well. In terms of scenery, La Tierra boasts wide-open views of sunset, making it a great post-work destination. But because of the trail system’s limited shade, the system isn’t ideal for a hot day. There are various parking spots and trailheads — Ridgetop Road for the La Tierra Access trailhead and Camino de los Montoyas for the Calabasas trailhead or Frijoles trailhead, for example — making the area easily accessible from different points of interest.

2. Galisteo Basin Preserve: Located 14 miles south of Santa Fe, the Galisteo Basin is comprised of nearly 10,000 acres of land, featuring rugged grasslands and deep-pitted arroyos. There are more than 28 miles of single-track pathways in the area, most of which are ranked beginner to intermediate. However, expert riders also love the area for its fast, flowing hills and beautiful views. Most riders make concentric loops in the basin or simply follow the outside perimeter, forming figure-eight patterns. While the trails aren’t marked, the system is fairly straightforward and offers open views of the parking lot, making it easy to navigate.

3. Winsor: An epic downhill might sound like a roller coaster of fun, but the Winsor’s point-to-point ride is not for the faint of heart. Starting just before the ski area’s parking lot, riders immediately gain speed, whizzing down a technical descent before crossing a forest road. After crossing, the trail becomes slightly less technical, but travels even faster. Over the course of the ride, cyclists are advised to veer right at any trail junction and use caution going at high speeds, since equestrians, runners and hikers also gravitate to the trail.

Honorable mention: Use a gravel bike or mountain bike to ride the 30-plus-mile Rail Trail. Fusing mountain biking with road riding, this easy pathway maneuvers over asphalt and gravel, from Lamy, past Eldorado and into Santa Fe.

Road riding

1. Las Campanas: The go-to ride at Las Campanas is a nearly 13-mile lollipop route, taking cyclists from the south La Tierra parking lot on Camino La Tierra through the Las Campanas neighborhood, eventually exiting toward Santa Fe and coming back to the starting point. After cyclists mount their bikes out of the parking lot, there’s an immediate descent followed by an abrupt, intense climb. From there, the ride is a mix of rolling hills, flowing smoothly past gorgeous homes and stunning views of the distant mountains. At the beginning of the ride, cyclists have to share a one-lane road with drivers, so caution is advised. The final few miles back to the car are fairly challenging, making this a bang-for-the-buck ride: short distance but a solid workout.

2. Ski basin climb: Straight up, straight down. Cyclists start from the downtown area or somewhere near the bottom of Hyde Park Road and begin making their way up the mountain. This out-and-back goes along several hairpin turns, so riders are advised to be aware of their surroundings — i.e. cars whizzing by. The approximately 30-mile ride is half-challenging, half-downhill bliss. Enjoy the descent back into town, gaining speeds around 35 mph (unless you’re a brake hugger).

3. Santa Fe Century: Hoping to complete a triple-digit ride? This 100-miler follows the Santa Fe Century race route, which was designed for both amateur riders and speedy go-getters. Though challenging, any in-shape cyclist can complete the course if they want to. Starting at the Santa Fe Community College, they’ll make their way to N.M. 14 and then to the town of Cerrillos. The route’s seven-mile climb through the Ortiz mountains is a burly one, but it’s doable. Once cyclists reach Madrid, they’ll continue to the top of Stagecoach Pass, rewarded with a fun downhill into the mining town of Golden. Turn onto N.M. 344 and prepare for the infamous Heartbreak Hill climb, which earned its name — it’s a doozy. In total, the elevation gain is more than 5,000 feet.

Honorable mention: It’s worth doing sections of the Santa Fe Century, such as riding the 72-mile Half Century course. (Some bikers in town say they prefer the route backward.) Riding to Madrid and back is an equally challenging ride, giving a taste of the Century but in just 40 miles. Another fun honorable mention is riding to Eldorado via Old Santa Fe Trail/Old Las Vegas Highway. This 40-mile route is also part of the Century race.

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