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The 17-mile Santa Fe Rail Trail follows the old Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line, beginning in the Railyard park in town and continuing along the tracks to Highway 285 through El Dorado to Lamy, incorporating urban, suburban and rural characteristics. Beyond the capital city, it runs along hilly, red-dirt terrain among a countryside of yucca and green junipers.
The Santa Fe Rail-Trail offers a flat, if jolty, journey. It's paved and accessible between the Railyard and Rabbit Road. Beyond that it's unimproved. A few steep climbs, arroyos (dried creek beds) from rain run-off cutting gulches across the surface and "goathead" sandspurs lurking in the soil produce plenty of hang-on-to-your-britches moments. Some stretches, like near Rabbit Road, are particularly bumpy, making it mostly used by mountain bikers. Be warned, however, a little rain can change the trail in minutes and make for a soupy ride if you're caught in it.
Trail managers do have plans to re-align segments and resurface some areas of the Santa Fe Rail-Trail to reduce erosion and make the trail safer.
To reach the Rabbit Road trailhead in Santa Fe, head south on S. St. Francis Drive until you pass under I-25. Take a right heading west on Rabbit Road and follow for about a half-mile until you reach the railroad tracks and a small parking lot on the left. At the southern end, outside of Lamy, the trail and railroad tracks can be picked up near Cerro Alto Road off Highway 285.
You can find other trailheads with parking at the trail intersections with Nine Mile Road, Avenida Vista Grande and Avenida Eldorado. Users can also access the trail at Spur Ranch Road, but there are no facilities.
While taking a picture of the Trail Head off Rabbit Rd ( N35.62771 W105.96681 ) I was informed that starting 0.2 miles north the trail is asphalt for 3.6 miles into town. I found an excellent trail with some at grade street crossings. Up and down to cross the arroyos, with one bridge that has parallel planks that made it very smooth for my Tri-Cruiser, but may be a hazard for skinny tires.
The “ Arroyo de los Chamisos Trail” joins the Santa Fe Trail at Siringo Rd ( N35.65191 W105.96541 ) Noel Keller 18 May 09
My wife and I walked a portion of the Santa Fe Trail on the day after Thanksgiving in 2007. There was an inch or two of fresh snow that had fallen during the night which made it a beautiful but somewhat slippery walk. The Rabbit Road trailhead is easy to reach by going south on St. Francis, Santa Fe's main drag. Continue past I-25 to the dead end and turn right. The railroad tracks are about a half mile west, and a small parking lot is on the left. We saw broken glass mentioned by an earlier reviewer (five years ago), but local friends go there to run frequently and say the parking is safe.
The trail is great for walking or running, but it would be a pretty good workout on a mountain bike. For most of the mile we walked to the south, there were usually two choices. You could stay near the tracks where the trail was reasonably level, or you go up over the small hill for a good workout. After each small but steep hill, the two trails would come back together and then split again at the next hill. Even in the short distance we went, the views were beautiful, particularly on a snowy day. We are anxious to come back with our bikes so we can do more of the trail.
"I live in Eldorado (at Santa Fe), a half mile from the approximate mid-point of the Santa Fe to Lamy ride. While the rail tracks (still in use) do go all the way to the village of Lamy, the trail in fact does not.
If riding from Santa Fe or points in between, you will intersect state highway 285, about two miles (as the crow flies) from Lamy. It is well advised that at this point you turn onto 285 south (right) and ride approximately one mile to the Lamy (left) turn, if your goal is to reach the village.
If you stay off road, following the railroad, you’ll soon discover that there’s no real trail, for riders or hikers, with very rugged brush and steep ridges. It’s bushwhacking or riding on the rails themselves, never a good idea.
As of this writing (November 2004) the village of Lamy contains little more than homes and the railroad station, where the Amtrak passenger run that connects Los Angeles and Chicago stops twice each day, once east bound, once west bound, about an hour northeast of Albuquerque.
There have been a few incarnations of a restaurant and bar called the “Legal Tender” across the road from the station, but the latest has long been closed. Thus, there are currently no refreshments to be had in the village, unless there are vending machines in the Amtrak station.
The Lamy – Santa Fe railroad spur is still used for commercial and recreational purposes. There are excursion rides, the train may be booked for groups, and the railroad station is available to caterers, if a bit rough on accommodations.
As for the two-wheel ride, it’s quite beautiful, whichever way you take it. From Santa Fe’s Rabbit Road, you are in for about seven miles of dirt slalom, mostly single track, mostly mile downgrade (from Santa Fe’s 7,000’ to Eldorado’s 6,800’, to Lamy which is lower still), before crossing pavement, in the middle of Eldorado. You can turn back there, or go on to Hwy. 285, where you can also turn back, or go on to see Lamy.
For my money, the best seasons are any but June (hottest month here, and buggy), and spring winds, which can range from March through May, unpredictably."
"This is not a ""rail-to-trail"" but a ""rail-with-trail"" because the trail runs right alongside a railroad. This trail has a lot of ups and downs and short steep climbs. We caught this trail where it goes from pavement to dirt at the intersection of Zia Road and St Francis in Santa Fe. This is a trailhead with parking. From what we had read this trail was supposed to take us to the town of Lamy but as far as we could tell it dead ends into Highway 285 (a couple miles shy of Lamy according to the mile markers).
The dirt portion of this trail is about 13 miles long. We rode out and back for a total of about 27.5 miles and a little over four hours. There are a lot of off shoots on this trail and on most of the ride there is trail on both sides of the tracks. We encountered light trail traffic on a Sunday. It gets pretty hot in the afternoon in June."
"I rode this trail while vacationing in Santa Fe. I really enjoyed riding it. It's a rolling, dirt trail very different from most rail-trails. I rode in the late afternoon and early evening and the views were outstanding.
But beware of where you park. My rental car was broken into at the Rabbit Road parking area. After I discovered it, I saw broken glass in other spots, so it is an area where there are some problems. Parking on cross roads should be OK. This particular lot sits off the road and is a bit secluded."
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