Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Once winter gives way to spring in Santa Fe, an abundance of mountain biking trails reveal themselves beneath the receding snowmelt. Winter-lost trails hidden from view, but visible all the time to those who await them.

Most evenings I’ve been heading up to the Dale Ball network, a sprawl of rocky, switchbacky loops that cling to the surrounding hills, and are linked by a short, leg-warming ride from downtown. Even closer to hand there’s La Tierra, a mellow collection of desert trails that weave their way between tight alleyways of piñon and junipers. I’ve yet to explore the higher elevation areas – the likes of the Windsor Trail – rideable when the snows have melted in the upper reaches of the neighbouring national forest, and the mud has dried out.

15 miles away lies Gallisteo Basin Preserve, known for its early season riding potential. The scope there is relatively limited for now, but plans are afoot to develop up to 50 miles of trails in the area. It’s well marked, with numbered juntion posts and a downloadable map available here to print – or download into your smart phone or itouch.

Transport-wise, I haven’t quite fathomed the timings of the free commuter bus yet, which shuttles between nearby El Dorado and Sante Fe. But you can always bike out there along the Rail Trail bike path for more of a workout, and it would be a great place to wild camp too.

A few photos from our Sunday ride…


It's only when you climb up to a viewpoint - like Happy Valley - that you appreciate Santa Fe's position, cupped between mountain, forest and high desert plains.


The trails at Galisteo Basin Preserve are mellow and easy going. You can make an out and back along a ridgetop, or drop down amongst the jeep tracks below.


Various optional rocky spurs encourage beginners to hone some desert riding skills.


Red dirt and a blue sky. A perfect combo.


The trails meander through pinons and junipers, hiking steeply out of aroyos - dry river beds - that typify the New Mexican high desert.


Desert rat riding. Me likes (-:

6 thoughts on “Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  1. daniel

    Hey, enjoy your blog. We are fellow Great Divide riders and live in Albuquerque. If you are still in SF this spring, hop the Rail Runner down to Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and I’ll treat you to our 50 mile “Tour de Ditch” ride. 50 miles of single track from Corrales through Albuquerque all on acequia single track and Rio Grande Bosque trails. email me if your interested.

      1. daniel

        Come on down! Its an amazing way to experience the Rio Grande river Bosque and the old Spanish Land Grant acequia (ditch) system of Albuquerque. Awesome ride. Love to have you guys.

  2. gyatsola

    I loved the Dale Ball Trail, There is a beautiful area of old adobe houses close to the trailhead, In the week or so I was staying in a motel I grew to love the short ride over there in the morning, having a nice latte in one of the arty cafes, then spending a couple of hours riding before it got hot. There can’t be many cities where you can live in the city centre and still be just 15 minutes cycle from great singletrack.

    1. While Out Riding Post author

      Phil, I can just picture you sipping that latte (-; Actually, the photos you took of the adobe houses, their walls fashioned around trees, was one of the reasons I wanted to come here the first time!

      Yep – to have that quality of trail so close to a centre centre of its size is very cool. Unfortunately, Santa Fe’s high enough that everything is snowed under come winter. Not much fun unless you’re a skier…


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