This loop is a great way to sample several connecting trails in the ski basin area. Highlights include Big Tesuque Creek, the namesake trees of Aspen Vista
, and the views from Deception Peak. The route is chosen for its mostly moderate grade.
Highly recommend using restrooms available at parking and the Big Tesuque Campground, as privacy on these trails can be difficult to find. On some dates in summer and early fall, events are happening at Ski Santa Fe, so food may be available (usually burgers) and the lifts may be running. On Labor Day weekend, endurance races occur on these trails. Additionally, Aspen Vista
is a very popular trail in the autumn when the leaves turn, so expect to share the trails with many people and bikes. In winter, expect snow.
Bring sufficient water! Santa Fe has a very dry climate, so expect to dehydrate more quickly. Water MAY be available but should not be counted on. The trail is very exposed above the treeline—be aware of the weather forecast and do not be caught out in the afternoon monsoons. Temperatures may range by 30-40 degrees during this loop, so be prepared.
Begin by parking at the Ski Santa Fe parking area and heading west to the Winsor National Recreation Trail
, which has restrooms and a map posted at the trailhead.
This loop is best done counter-clockwise, as it then finishes downhill into the basin. Head left/south on the Windsor Trail and keep left at the intersection with Rio en Medio
to stay on Windsor. Pass through the "Norski" trailhead parking, continuing straight through on Windsor. Continue descending and cross Pacheco Canyon Road (Borrego Trail
), continuing straight to stay on Windsor.
Finally, reach the lowest elevation of the loop as you reach the intersection with what the county calls Tesuque Creek Trail, but is better known as Big Tesuque
. Head left and begin the long climb. After slightly over a mile from the intersection, the Big Tesuque Campground is reached at Hyde Park Road. Restrooms (pit toilets) are available and a map is posted.
Continue on Big Tesuque
, now following the creek for the steepest mile yet. At approximately mile 5.25 of the loop, meet with Aspen Vista
, a forest road which will take you nearly to the top of the climb. This section is a nearly constant 6% grade for 5 miles, with beautiful views over Santa Fe through the aspens.
Continue on the forest road until the ridge is gained, with views down onto the lake. Then turn left on the road, heading north-east and keeping to the ridge up onto Deception Peak. Once gained, head northwest and down onto Raven's Ridge
which borders the ski area on the north. Do not head into the bowl of Nambe Lake. Follow the trail on a steep descent, meeting the Winsor National Recreation Trail
once again, and taking it south to return to the parking area of Ski Santa Fe.
Forests are primarily pine and aspen, with ferns along the lower elevation portions of the trail along the creek. There is potential to see deer, elk, bears, and mountain lions, but mostly chipmunks.