Over many years, Santa Fe, New Mexico has earned the reputation of being an outdoor sports playground as it has all the right features to be one of the best in America in this category. Its rugged landscape, beautiful scenery and mild weather urge people to leave their homes and embark on ultimate outdoor adventures. Biking, golf, baseball, rafting running and hiking have become staple activities and outdoor sports in this American city.
When it comes to running and hiking, Santa Fe has several amazing trails that cater to fans of outdoor activities. One of the popular ones here is hiking Atalaya Mountain. The trail is actually divided into two, one being 7 miles long roundtrip (Trail 174) while the other is 4.6 miles round trip (Trail 170.) For seasoned hikers, this trail is relatively easy and quite accessible. Those who want more challenge, can also tackle the trail by running or mountain biking.
You can access the trail from the parking lot at St. Johns College. If you decide to do the 4.6 mile loop, you need to park farther up, close to the Ponderosa Ridge development. The first few miles of the trail are considered to be easy compared to the succeeding sections, often characterized to be steep and strenuous.
Why would anyone want to hike Atalaya Mountain? It is truly an enjoyable physical activity that will burn those calories and get your blood pumping. On top of this, the mountain, which stands more than 9000 feet above sea level provides the most outstanding panorama of Sante Fe, the Rio Grande valley and the surrounding landscape.
Because of Atalaya’s popularity, some parts of the trails are eroded. So make sure you thread lightly on these places. Although the trails are quite visible, there is still a tendency to get lost especially on your way down. If it is the first time you are doing this, it is highly recommendable that you go with other people, who are familiar with it or have a map for guidance.
Even though you are planning to do the shorter hike, bring enough water and snacks. Do not underestimate the roughness of the trail, wear a sturdy pair of shoes or boots instead of sandals. Use plenty of sunscreen and dress appropriately according to the weather. Consider bringing a walking stick if you anticipate encountering problems with balancing yourself in steep areas.
Another important thing you should know about hiking Atalaya Mountain and getting active in Santa Fe in general, is that the city itself is located at an elevation of about 7000 feet. The air you breathe here is probably some of the cleanest in the whole country, but it is a little thinner. If you come from sea level or are unaccustomed to this altitude, you should dedicate some time to acclimatize to the thin air before going for a strenuous hike or trail run, especially to higher ground like Atalaya Mountain.
As part of your physical preparation, make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid things that will get you dehydrated like drinking excessive alcohol the night before the hike. After making the proper preparations and planning, and considering all the important factors, you are ready to conquer Atalaya Mountain!