Caring for the Trails of Santa Fe

Year to Date Volunteer hours

TAOSF=Trails Alliance of Santa Fe, SFFTS= Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, BMX/FR/MX = BMX, Freeride, and Motocross, SFCT = Santa Fe Conservation Trust, USFS = Santa Fe National Forest, GBP = Galisteo Basin Preserve (click here to summaries of the data in pie charts)

A big thanks to everybody that volunteered last year!

2020 Volunteer Hours – 2187 hours

We’re the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe — a volunteer arm of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust working in cooperation with public land managers to help plan, build, and maintain non-motorized trails in the Santa Fe area.

  • Trail Work and Pandemic News 11/17/20

    Even during the pandemic Santa Fe’s trails are undergoing care. Tim Roger’s ( work crews are limited to five but continue to improve trails in La Tierra, Dale Ball, Sun Mountain and Atalaya. Please let him know if you’d like to work alongside of knowledgeable volunteers who know how to build sustainable trails that don’t wash away at the first rain gusher (long lost though they might be).

    New trail builds haven’t stopped either. The Chili Line Trail in La Tierra will add a history lesson about Santa Fe’s railroad era. New trails are being planned in the Galisteo Basin. A new neighborhood trail along Camino de los Montoyas offers a safe route by a road which has no shoulder for walkers or bikes.

    The pandemic is not going away so all of us need to do an even better job at social distancing and wearing a mask. Avoiding packed parking lots at trailheads is one technique for finding trails less traveled. Always wear a mask because you never know who will appear around the next bend. If possible step off the trail to let someone else pass no closer than six feet.

    Margaret Alexander

  • Trails During the Pandemic

    Most of us have seen an uptick in trail use during the pandemic shutdown. Parking lots are full to over-flowing. We have lots of trails to spread out on and folks are used to moving off the trail as they meet others. Please try to go to trails and parks which don’t receive as many visitors.

    A photo of the Rio en Medio “trail head,” such that it is, was posted on FaceBook, jammed with cars with neighbors horrified by the trash and illegal parking. The U.S. Forest Service is considering shutting down the parking area as described in this press release: Rio en Medio

    The Trails Alliance of Santa Fe usually sends out crews of volunteers to work on our trails during the summer. To adhere to our governor’s guidelines for the pandemic, our crews have been limited to five people. Our usual first-Monday-of-the-month lunch meetings at Il Vicino in Santa Fe have been suspended. Until meetings can resume, our calendar of activities, including work days, will look very bare.

    If you’d like to help out during the pandemic, please consider make a donation. You’ll find an easy to use donate button at the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe website.

  • The Santa Fe Ultra Needs Volunteers

    Hello trail lovers, on Saturday August 31 people will be coming from all over the country and even 5 Tarahumara runners from Copper Canyon in Mexico to run the Endurance Santa Fe Mountain Trail Races.

    We need a few more people to help out. There are volunteer positions at aid stations, helping runners get food and water, on the course as sweepers, following the last runners and picking up the course marking flagging and other jobs.

    If you would like to be a part of this fun time please contact Peter Olson at By the way, Peter is a big supporter of trails being a certified trail crew leader, sawyer and steward of La Piedra trail. He works to keep our trails in good shape and usable!

  • Another Resource for Finding Trail Conditions

    Every hiker has set out on a trail only to discover that conditions were other than expected, even if the hiker was familiar with the trail from past visits or from consulting a hiking guide. Access roads, trailheads, creek crossing, trail regulations, and the trails themselves are always changing. To help hikers avoid surprises and prepare for their outings, the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe has created an online message board where hikers can share current information about trail conditions (information too timely for a guidebook). About closures, washouts, snow, mud, missing signs, damaged bridges, navigational challenges, difficult crossings, access road problems, etc. – whatever hikers believe other hikers would want to know before setting out on the trail. The message board is a shared and open resource. Anyone can check the board before a hike. Anyone can contribute new or updated information after a hike. At present, the message board covers all sixty-eight trails in the Sierra Club’s Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area (Eighth Edition). The board is accessible from any computer or smartphone at

    Here’s a link to a poster we hope to put at a lot of trailheads. Trail condition Poster

    Nick Knorr

  • Disappearing Dirt

    On the La Tierra Trails, mitigating chronic erosion has been an evolutionary process. Dirt grade reversals (i.e. building up dirt berms across a trail to divert water) have not held up. They disappear after just one season. Lately we’ve experimented with laying a foundation of modest-sized boulders to insure that the berm holds up over time. In some cases the dirt “ramp” leading up to the rocks has not stayed in place or was built too short. We’re learning and modifying the work we do.

    A new grade reversal means that mountain bikers at speed need to take extra care on sections of the trails where there are severe ruts and gullies.

    Here’s a link to what volunteers did at La Tierra this April – La Tierra April Work Days

    Please let us know if you come upon trail problems. There’s a place to report on this page.

    Getting involved with trail maintenance is a good way to understand changes that happen to your favorite trail. Trails Alliance members are trained to analyze trail problems and come up with sustainable solutions. If you want to get involved contact and check the calendar on this website for our next work day.

    Margaret Alexander

  • 1000 hours – Thanks Mizzou Students and Mentors!!

    During the week of March 25, 2019, 12 students from the University of Missouri — or Mizzou, as they like to be called — along with their chaparones, journeyed to Santa Fe to complete a service work project during their spring break.  Over five days, these hardy and fun-loving students tackled some of the most pressing maintenance projects at the Galisteo Basin Preserve, including building rock check dams, shoring up arroyo headcuts that were undercutting trails, and fixing erosion issues on several GBP hike/bike and multi-use trails, such as the Eliza’s Ridge Trail, Shepard’s Trail, Sophie’s Spur, South Wagon Trail and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty. They were expertly led by Peter Prince — who coordinated their service project at GBP — as well as other highly experienced crew leaders from the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society: Dean Fry, Henry Lanman, Pat Brown and Tim Fowler.  Incredibly over the five-day period, they completed 792 volunteer hours at the Preserve!  When their volunteer hours are added to the hours put in by their crew leaders from SFFTS, over 1000 hours of volunteer maintenance work was completed at the GBP.  This is the second highest level of volunteer work ever completed on a Santa Fe area trail — just behind the Hustle and Flow trail at La Tierra Trails that was built over a 3 week period. The SFFTS has designated all the students honorary club members to celebrate their extraordinary efforts at GBP!

  • Wider and Wider, Uglier and Uglier

    Our local trails are just drying out from the snow melt, however, mud season will last off and on through the monsoons.  Everyone knows about growing an inch or more as mud gloms onto the bottom of shoes.  What folks don’t know is how biking, hiking, or riding in muddy conditions can severely damage trails.

    Divots and grooves are obvious damage that often gets ironed out as time goes on. Until then, the divots and grooves are dangerous for bikers and hikers.  What’s permanent is the damage caused when we try to avoid the mud and walk beside the trail.  The trail gets wider and wider, uglier and uglier.

    If you get caught in the mud, please, please, walk or ride through it down the middle of the trail.

    Yes, you’ll get dirty, shoes and tires, but a hose job can wash off the muck.  If you want beautiful single track, you have to stay in it.  Detours around the mud cause permanent damage.

    1000 pounds of horse does even more damage to the sides of trails.  Responsible riders need to stay off of muddy trails.

    So riders, walkers, bikers, please respect the trails and stay away on mud days.  There are lots of paved trails to substitute or try an arroyo instead.

    Margaret Alexander


  • New Year Reminder and News

    Every month the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe meets at lunch to discuss our favorite subject, trails. ( Il Vicino, noon, on the first Monday of the month to be precise). To us, trails are dirt, narrow, sustainable, scenic, and on land accessible to the public. Beyond this simple definition, there’s a lot going on.

    The January, 2019 lunch brought us a visitor from OTAG, the legendary hiking group called Over The Arroyo Gang. For years OTAG has adopted the Borrego-Bear Wallow loop in the Santa Fe National Forest, working on trail maintenance. (By the way, OTAG is grateful to the Fat Tire Society of Santa Fe which completed a major re-route on the Borrego portion of the trail in 2017-18) OTAG would like to develop another core of volunteers to do trail work.

    OTAG’s request was an example of the mosaic that forms the volunteers who maintain and build Santa Fe’s trails, whether on city, county, National Forest or BLM lands. Beside mountain bike enthusiasts, volunteers are drawn from hiking groups like OTAG and high school organizations like those at Capital, Waldorf, and the Masters Charter School. The Masters in particular has a Public Lands class that works each Friday. They are responsible for the new and improved Little Tesuque Trail which has hundreds of new users.

    Backcountry Horsemen are another group that provides volunteers for trails. (If I’ve left anyone out, please respond, and we’ll add your name.)

    The Fat Tire Society of Santa Fe donated a collection box in the Galisteo Preserve so that everyone can contribute to the maintenance of that fine system of trails.

    Money helps, of course, paying for tools, rentals, archeology review, but the consensus of our lunch group is that organizing, recruiting, and training new volunteers are the primary needs of all trail groups including the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe.

    If you’re interested in helping Santa Fe’s trails, please join us on the first Monday of the month, noon, at Il Vicino.

  • Now you can report trail damage!

    You are on a trail. An aspen has fallen across the trail that’s too big to move. What do you do? The old way was to try to figure out if you’re on county land, city land, national forest land, Nature Conservancy land and then try to figure out how to send the appropriate land manager a message about the problem.

    The new, improved way to alert land managers about trail problems is simply go to the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe website or click on the “To Report Trail Damage” link on the right side of our home page. TAOSF volunteers will direct your message to the right land manager. All you have to do is answer a few questions which can help to get the repairs done.

    The recent rains have created many new gullies and rough spots on our trails. Expert mountain bike riders may find these new hazards thrilling, but most riders and hikers are having a hard time staying upright. TAOSF volunteers work on trails to make them safer, not easier. If you want to learn more about trail work, please come at lunch time to Il Vicino on the first Monday of each month and meet TAOSF volunteers

    Margaret Alexander

  • Get that Goathead

    Lately the Santa Fe New Mexican has been full of articles on the question “what’s a weed,” with many definitions of what constitutes a nuisance. I happen to be a devotee of wildflowers, native plants, and grasses, but there’s one that questions my faith: goatheads. This little devil hits our trails with a spikey seed that punctures tires. It particularly likes disturbed areas such as trail heads.

    A first for Dale Ball Trails: removal of goathead infestation next to a newly-planted tree at the old Filter Plant Building site, Sept. 5, 2018

    You can be a help to your fellow bikers by pulling them up whenever you find them. Pulling up by the root is the best, but if it breaks off, that helps too, by preventing the seeds from maturing.

    It’s a shame to think of our trails being ruined by goatheads. If everyone plucks a few from trails and trail heads, the problem goes away without poisons. Please help!

    Margaret Alexander

The Trails Alliance of Santa Fe wishes to thank Charles Fox of Avian Design for his support and help designing and maintaining this website.