the great outdoors are calling…
While it’s always a good time to be outside here in Northern New Mexico, there is something about the change in the weather that makes fall feel like a particularly wonderful time to explore the natural resources that are around us. Chilly enough in the shade for a sweater and not too oppressively hot in the sun, autumn in Santa Fe that begs us to do some exploring. Of course, adventuring with kiddos can be quite different than going for a hike either on your own or with a group of friends. Here are some ideas for getting outdoors and having fun with your student, regardless of age. As with every outing in Santa Fe, don’t forget sunscreen, a sun hat, plenty of water and lots of snacks.
River Park Trail
Probably the most accessible outdoor space in Santa Fe is our paved River Trail. Easy to get to from either the Solana Center parking lot or Frenchy’s Field, you can bring bikes, scooters, or skateboards if you want to move fast, or just take a leisurely stroll (with the promise of a hot chocolate from Better Day at the end!). You can also choose to get to the river bed at certain access points and walk along the unpaved trail there if you’re looking for more of an adventure.
Santa fe children’s museum
The outdoor area of the Children’s Museum is fun for all ages. It includes large foam building blocks (yes, you can make a full-size castle), a beautiful garden, and solar cooking demonstrations! A good, accessible choice if you don’t want to travel to the mountains or if you’re just too tuckered out for a hike. Check out the S.T.E.P. pass through the SF Library for a free pass to the Children’s Museum (and other museums as well).
galisteo basin preserve
A great place for a hike when the temperatures drop and especially once snow comes in, this spot is just past Lamy. It’s always sunny in Galisteo, so you can find clear trails when the ones in town are icy and snowy, and you can always stop in to Cafe Fina for tasty treats when you’re on your way home (one word – pie). Another great option for a wide age-range. Two-year-olds will enjoy just hanging out in the arroyo playing with sand, and twelve-year-olds will get a good workout completing one of the hiking loops. Look out for the HUGE rock with divots and pits in it about midway through the Shepherd’s Trail as well as the cool changes in terrain and soil color.
randall davey audubon center
Just up Upper Canyon from the school, this is a great way to visit bird sanctuaries AND play on a really cool play structure. There are plenty of hiking trails that branch off from here.
hyde memorial park
Heading up to the Ski Basin is one of the most obvious places to start your hiking adventure. Choose your timing well, as both Hyde Park Road AND trails can get congested during high traffic time. There are so many trails and hikes to choose from that you can truly find something for everyone here. For the younger students, try the Little Tesuque Trail (but use caution when crossing Hyde Park). For intermediate hikers, Norski is a nice option with different loops available. If you have a real adventurer, drive all the way to the Ski Basin parking lot and get lost along Raven’s Ridge or on the other side in the Wilderness Area (bring plenty of snacks and water if you plan on doing this larger adventure. You could be out there all day!).
Dale ball trails
There are a few nice things about the Dale Ball Trails here in Santa Fe. One is that you can pick them up at so many different places (Cerro Gordo being the closest to the school). They also present a variety of different levels for different ages. You can mosey with a toddler for a short out and back, or get a really good loop in with your elementary student with some good vistas. These can get a little more foot and bike traffic depending on when you visit.
la tierra trails
Our city’s little mountain biking treasure is just on the other side of 599 and is such a wonderful resource! You need not be a biker to enjoy these trails, but it’s a wonderful place to get your kid started (plenty of good places for a Strider Bike) or get some good practice in (many technical trails and jumps to hone your skills). If you’re just looking for a short hike, this is a great, accessible place to go as well with big views of the mountains all around our city. Bring your hat and sunscreen, it gets hot out here.
la cieneguilla petroglyphs
If you’re closer to the Southside of town, this is a great place to visit and see some amazing petroglyphs. The hike to the petroglyphs is quite steep, but if your kiddo is up for it, it’s well worth the climb.