Hop on the bus, Gus, but don’t forget your bike, Mike. The Blue Bus starts a pilot project to carry people and bikes up the mountain to the end of NM 475 or Hyde Park Road at Ski Santa Fe. In July and August the bus will take up to six bikes up the hill on two round trips a day on weekdays and three times a day on weekends. Only the first six bikes will be able to make the trip up the mountain.
Once you get yourself and your bike on the Blue Bus, there are many options for side trips, adventures and to get back down. One of the premier routes is the Winsor National Recreation Trail. Pick it up at the parking lot for Ski Santa Fe, the bus ride terminus. The ten-mile, single-track trail drops 3,400 feet of elevation starting at 10,330. Once you get to the end of the trail in Tesuque, it is a 4.5 mile ride with 400-plus feet of climbing on Bishop’s Lodge Road to get back to Fort Marcy Recreation Complex.
There are several other options for a rugged mountain bike ride along Hyde Park Road. One spot — and the first the bus passes — is the Sierra Del Norte trailhead of the Dale Ball trails. This is a good network of connecting trails that will entertain intermediate and expert rides while not testing your lung capacity like the higher altitude trails will.
The next trail the bus passes is the Little Tesuque trailhead (not to be confused with the Little Tesuque picnic area), just a few miles from the Sierra Del Norte trailhead. This trail starts off as a gentle downhill following the Little Tesuque creek, but you will have to decide quickly which big uphill you want to climb. To the right are two options to connect to the Winsor trail; further down the trail and to the left is La Piedra. More than 30 switchbacks later you will connect with the Dale Ball network of trails with your tongue hanging out and your heart rate rivaling a hummingbird’s.
As your bus tour continues up the hill, the Chamisa trailhead presents itself. This is a popular place for hikers and bikers to begin trail adventures into the Santa Fe National Forest. There are two options to begin this journey. The “high” trail begins with some steep climbing up the hillside while the lower option shoots right up the middle of the valley before beginning the climb to the saddle where the two trails merge and then plunge down to the Winsor Trail.
You can find cool relief from the summer heat at the Borrego/Bear Wallow trailhead. This is another popular spot because it makes a loop crossing the Big Tesuque Creek twice. The “loop” uses the Winsor trail to complete a triangular shaped route. The loop offers fun downhill and uphill to give you a nice big sense of accomplishment after getting back to the parking lot.
If descending on a dirt road is your thing, then the Pacheco Canyon or Forest Service 102 road is for you. From the junction with Hyde Park Road the dirt road twists its way through the forest to Tesuque Village Road. After nearly 9 miles of dirt road — that’s usually passable for most cars — the view changes when the road surface gose from dirt to pavement as you pop out of the canyon and onto the foothills. This is the intersection with NM 592. Follow this road another 3 miles to the Tesuque Village Road. From here it is about 7 miles to Fort Marcy Recreation Complex on paved roads.
Keep going up the road and you come to the Aspen Vista overlook. From here you can ride up a dirt access road six miles to the top of Tesuque Peak where the radio and communication towers are. Riding up will give you at least an hour to contemplate your lowest gear ratio and fitness level of your legs. But once you get to the top and turn around those same six miles zip by. Remember to stay in control as you find your gravity-powered rush.
These are just a few of the opportunities mountain bikers can find on the Blue Bus route up to the Ski Santa Fe parking lot. Santa Fe County has developed an online interactive map (www.santafecountynm.gov) you can use to plan your adventure. There is even a free app for you carry with you on your smartphone.