Santa Fe: Southwestern Mountain Biking at its Finest

Explore the best singletrack that Santa Fe, New Mexico has to offer.

Mountain Biking Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

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Jagged Axe. Rider: Bryce Zeigle
Jagged Axe. Rider: Bryce Zeigle Photo: Greg Heil

Description

New Mexico is massively underrated in today's mountain bike literature. For some reason, the Land of Enchantment gets largely skipped over when writers compile their lists of "Top 10 Must-Ride Most-Epic Best-of-the-Best Destinations in the Bestest Nation that Ever Was: The God-Blessed United States of America."

This oversight might be due to New Mexico's venerable neighbor to the north, Colorado, which is home to some of the best riding on planet earth. Or it might be due to its neighbor to the west, Arizona, which is home to that one big ditch you might have heard of, along with some of the best desert mountain biking in the world.

While New Mexico as a whole is underrated, if there's one town in New Mexico that at gets at least a little street cred in the mags, it's Santa Fe.

This trendy tourist town of 84,000 serves as New Mexico's state capital. Resting at an elevation of 7,199 feet above sea level, it's actually the highest elevation state capital in the whole United States. The mile-high city ain't got nuthin' on Santa Fe.

Santa Fe might be high, but its roots are deep. The town was first settled 13 years before Plymouth Colony was established by the Pilgrims from the Mayflower. It's also home to the oldest church in the USA, the San Miguel Mission Church, originally built in 1610. Prior to European inhabitation, the Puebloan culture goes back thousands of years. In short, humans have been living in, visiting, and traveling through Santa Fe for millennia.

Epic Mountain Biking

This travel trend continues with today's tourism boom. While most of the tourists to Santa Fe might be focused on the art, history, architecture, and food, outdoor tourism is a massive contributor to the economy and culture. The terrain surrounding the city is an arid high desert environment filled with pinon pines, narrow arroyos, and dry, dusty trails. But when you look to the east, a mountain range rises dramatically above downtown. As you look around at the sagebrush and sand, it might be difficult to imagine the lush alpine environment that's accessible just minutes up a nearby mountain pass... but it's there, and you can mountain bike through it.

Some trails, like the epic Winsor shuttle, descend from the ski resort in the alpine, passing through several different climate zones including aspens and ponderosa pines, dropping out of the dark black dirt and ending in the pinons and sand of the desert below. This incredibly diverse landscape offers an unbelievable array of mountain biking opportunities that's rideable 12 months per year.

While the Dale Ball trails wind through the suburbs of Santa Fe and La Tierra trails offer a complex network just on the edge of town, for the very best mountain biking, you need to go a few minutes outside of town to nearby Glorieta.

Glorieta: Best Purpose-Built Mountain Bike Trails in New Mexico

Glorieta Adventure Camps now boasts the best purpose-built mountain bike trail system in New Mexico, aside from perhaps the lift-served Angel Fire Bike Park. The trails are located on a combination of private land and nearby National Forest Land. The private land is a 2,400-acre compound that serves as a Christian camp and retreat center, but is open to the public for mountain biking. The trails have been independently developed by the camp, but they've both fostered and employed top-tier trail builders to construct many of their trails.

While most of the trails are located on private land, Glorieta permits the public to access the trails from a trailhead outside of the camp. The trail system has also played host to the venerable Big Mountain Enduro Race for several years, before being derailed by the pandemic in recent years. Glorieta is a favorite stop for the tour, thanks to its brutally-technical bike-optimized descents. For more on Glorieta's backstory, be sure to read this article.

To get a taste of the riding at Glorieta, begin with the fantastic flow line known as Holy Mole, then move on to Jagged Axe for a fantastic beat down.

The trails near Santa Fe may be the best-known mountain bike rides in the state of New Mexico, but these selections just scratch the surface of what the region has to offer. If you're genuinely looking for under-the-radar stashes, branch out from here and begin exploring the wild and beautiful New Mexico mountains!

Routes included

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