Borrego – Bear Wallow – Windsor Trail Loop Hike

Borrego – Bear Wallow – Windsor Trail Loop Hike

>>> Listen to this Hike of the Week. Project 101.5

with Kent Little of Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works

Hike Rating Easy
Round Trip Hiking Distance 4 Miles
Time To Hike 2 Hours and 15 Minutes

  • Weather Considerations. Hike Early to avoid afternoon weather and High mountain Storm. In the winter the Borrego can be a great snowshoe route depending on snow pack…
  • Driving 17.5 Miles Round Trip.
  • Quick Directions: Take Washington Avenue to Artist Road and Go Left. Follow Artist Road for 8.5 Miles through the Hyde Park Ranger Complex to the Bear Wallow Trail Parking Lot. This parking Lot can be full on the weekend, there is ample shoulder for Parking.

Altitude Between: 8200 Ft. and 8800 Ft. with about 750 feet of uphill and a fair amount of downhill.
Maps: Mclure Reservoir and Aspen Basin
>>> Click here for day hiking trail tips.

Hike of the Week- Diablo Canyon

Diablo Canyon

Listen to this Hike of the Week >>> Project 101.5

with Kent Little of Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works

Hike Rating: Easy and Flat
Hiking Distance: 6 Miles
Hiking time: 3 Hours
Altitude: 5450 feet to 5850 feet for approximately 400 vertical feet of climbing depending on route.
Seasonal And Weather: This is a hot hike in the summer and better hiked in the Fall or Spring.  If you hike in the summer, please hike early.
Driving Distance: 38 Miles, about 1 hour 30 minutes depending on the roads.

Directions: Take NM 599 (Relief Route).  Follow 599 to Camino La Tierra exit some 4.2 miles west on 599.  Follow Camino La Tierra to the first 4-way stop.  At this stop go straight ahead.  Follow the road until the road splits with the right branch going to Las Campanas and the left branch going to La Tierra – go left to La Tierra.  Occasionally the road is divided by a tree-covered median:  stay in the right lane and go straight ahead through all intersections. Four miles past the intersection with the relief route, the pavement ends and turns to dirt wash boards.  Stay on the dirt road and after four miles you will pass a windmill and a livestock corral on the left.  Mark your mileage at this point.  Look for the Canada Ancha Arroyo on the left.  This arroyo follows the edge of the Caja del Rio plateau.  Ahead you will see the large columnar basalt escarpment or the entrance to Diablo Canyon.  At 4.3 miles from the windmill you will see a road going to the left toward the canyon.  This will lead you to an open parking area at the mouth of the canyon – park here to begin your hike.

The Hikes: The Diablo Canyon is an arroyo hike which takes you through the large columnar Basalt Cliffs of Diablo Canyon.  These magnificent cliffs rise nearly 300 feet and are often used by local rock climbers.

The Diablo Canyon winds its way down the arroyo for three miles.  Hikers will move from the Diablo escarpment into the washes of the arroyo – here the landscape gives way to layers of ash and cinder cones on its way to the river.

Continue your hike for three miles through the arroyo to the mighty Rio Grande.  On a hot day, this is a great place to dip your feet in the water.  For the more adventurous, Diablo is a good place to scramble among the Basalt formations, off trail.  the area is filled with hidden caves and petroglyphs from the area’s earliest settlers.  The Diablo canyon hike should take the average hiker about three hours to complete, and is a great cooler season place to hike and explore.

Kent Little- Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works

Day Hiking Trail Tips

Day Hiking is a fun and easy way to get out and explore the thousands of miles of trails in and around the Santa Fe area. While day Hiking is a fun way to get exercise and adventure, many a day hiker have fallen prey to ill preparedness. The lucky ones get a rescue after getting into a tricky spot, some people have much bigger consequences. By following some basic tips surrounding Day Hiking, you can have a fun and Positive day in the Mountains, Canyons, and Forests surrounding our enchanted town.

1. Have a Plan
Before you head out it is important make a plan for your day in the woods. A Hiker will often refer to a guide book to start like Day Hikes in Santa Fe published by the local Sierra Club. Do your homework, consult maps , weather and route descriptions. Once you have collected these critical items, you will be able to convey your plan to someone before you leave as a safety precaution. Give a person the area, trail and time you plan on being out .

2. In the Pack
There are several items that one should take for successful journey. It is always better to be safe than sorry and these items can give a great sense of comfort when things don’t go as planned. When I hike I like to have the following items in a small day pack.

It is always a good idea to have a good set of rainwear. There are many different types and models from high end Goretex ® Rainwear all the way down to coated and breathable light-weight rainwear. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as it keeps you dry in a rain shower. Before high tech gear was available, a large 50 gallon trash bag could do the trick.
Food & Water
It is smart to take some food and some water. A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a few power bars are good to have for energy ,trail snacks and especially in an emergency situation. There are many varieties of trail food and every hiker has there favorite. Try Salami and Cheese with crackers, Sandwiches, Fruit, Cookies. They may come in handy to power a long return hike.
Always take plenty of water and stay hydrated along the trail. There are many water bottles and hydration systems available. I like to like with a CamelBak ® as it gives me constant easy access to water without having to stop and take a drink. Dehydration can leave a Hiker in a weakened state. Drink often while on the trail. Carry at least 32 oz’s of water when hiking, I like 100oz’s myself.
You never know when a wrong turn could have you lost and behind schedule. On more than one occasion I have hiked or skied out of the wilderness by headlamp. This is an essential piece of gear available at most mountain shops. It is not a bad idea to have an extra set of batteries tucked away in your pack.
Map and Compass/GPS
Knowing your route and having a good sense of the direction you are traveling in is essential when traveling in the back-country. There are many maps available both from private sources and public sources. The USGS United States Geological Survey is an excellent source for topographic maps for the wilderness areas you want to explore. If you want and excellent route planning tool check out National Geographic’s Weekend Explorer Series for your own mapping information system. The Software lets you look at USGS topographic maps for your region on your laptop, overlay GPS routes and view your hike in 3D profiles.
A Simple compass is a great way to keep your bearing in the wilderness, but in today’s high tech world GPS units are user friendly and accessible from many manufacturers. Using a GPS will give a person real time Satellite positioning as well as providing a great mapping resource on the go. Using a GPS allows the hiker to digitally mark a trail making it easy to retrace ones steps with the direction of the Satellite Unit. A good GPS unit can run anywhere from $99.00 to $500.00 or more depending on the features.
Fire Kit
I always hike with a lighter and some wooden waterproof matches. A few years back I was in the backcountry with a friend who got lost on a side hike when a storm rolled in. Disoriented and unable to see, my friend had to sit down, build a shelter and a fire for warmth. He made it through a rough night out because he had matches and fire tinder in his survival kit. Tinder can be helpful in wet situations. For easy fire, one can by a magnesium fire starter kit for only a few dollars. This will last a hiker a long time and could prove to be an invaluable asset out on the trail.
Digital Camera
I always like to have a camera along, you never know what you may see but I have never been on a hike when I did not find something worthy of documenting for the scrapbook.
Knit Cap
A simple knit cap in the pack can come in handy on higher altitude hikes when the wind kicks up. Keeping your head warm in cold rain showers, snow and wind is a great way to stave off hypothermia. Keep you noggin warm.
A Simple whistle can help a search and rescue party locate a lost or injured hiker. Keeping a whistle close around your neck is a very good audible alert in the case of an emergency.
First Aid
A small first aid kit is not a bad idea for people who are doing longer back-country forays into the wilderness. If you get hurt, you may need to rescue yourself. There are many great small to medium sized first aid kits available for Day Hikers and back Packers. Check Out Atwater Carey, Outdoor Research or Advanced Medical for specialty outdoor first aid Kits.
Sun Block and Sun Protection
Sun block is an important tool in the high Country. In the Rocky Mountains, the sun can be much stronger than the sun at the beach because you are obviously much higher and thus closer to the sun. I recommend carrying Sun block with a rating of SPF 30 or higher. This will keep you from burning while traveling in the mountains. If you are hiking in a desert climate plan to take a large brimmed hat to keep the sun off of your face. In the high Desert country of New Mexico, the sun slowly wears hikers down. Protecting yourself with a wide brimmed ventilated hat will make a high and dry hike more pleasurable.
Trowel and TP
Oh Yes sometimes nature does call when we are in the backcountry. If you need to us privy while on the trail, please follow Leave No Trace Wilderness Ethics. Always pack out used TP and dig a cat hole far away from the trail to deposit waste. Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease, and maximize the rate of decomposition. In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner is the most effective method to meet these criteria. Solid human waste must be packed out from some places, such as narrow river canyons. Land management agencies can advise you of specific rules for the area you plan to visit. Contrary to popular opinion, research indicates that burial of feces actually slows decomposition (at least in the Rocky Mountains). Pathogens have been discovered to survive for a year or more when buried. However, in light of the other problems associated with feces, it is still generally best to bury it. The slow decomposition rate causes the need to choose the correct location, far from water, campsites, and other frequently used places.

Dress for Success
Perhaps the most important piece of gear for any day hiker is a well fit hiking shoe or boot. In today’s boot market there are many excellent High top, Mid top and Low top versions of Hiking and walking shoes. It is important to get a piece of footwear built on a stable platform to prevent ankle twisting while on uneven ground. There are many outdoor shoe look a likes out there that will not perform. I would strongly urge you to make your footwear your biggest investment. A properly fit pair of shoes combined with a good sock system will keep your feet happy, healthy and on the trail. A poorly fit pair of cheap hikers could leave you with blisters, a turned ankle and potentially fail you while ten miles out on the trail, walking home with a flopping boot sole is not a real good time on the trail . Consult an expert shop like Sangre de Cristo Mountain works in Santa Fe and let our specialty boot fitters get you on the trail in style and comfort.

When heading out into the woods it is important to dress for success. Comfort on the trail starts with good footwear and preferably synthetic base fabrics which will help manage moisture, Keep you cool when its hot and keep you warm when it gets cold or your get wet. In the outdoors, cotton kills because it is a hydrophilic fabric which soaks up and holds moisture . Wet clothing can kill a person and bring on hypothermia. By wearing synthetic base layer fabrics and nylon hiking pants, one protects themselves from heat and cold. A synthetic base layer will retain all of it’s insulating properties even when wet. Check out Patagonia Capilene ® or Merino Wool base layers from Icebreaker ® to hit the trail in comfort.

Good outdoor clothing systems build off of a layering principle with three layers. The next to skin layer or base layer should be a thin synthetic short sleeve shirt for warmer hours of the hike. The Mid Layer or insulating layer should be a light wool sweater, fleece or heavier long sleeve base layer. I prefer a Zip Turtleneck style because it covers the neck. When you need this layer it means it is getting cold. The third layer we have already mentioned is the Shell layer or your weather barrier. Check out The North Face Venture ® Jacket and Pants.

In 30 years of camping, climbing, hiking and skiing, I have found that a well planned simple clothing system based on synthetic fabrics is key to success. We often read of the ill prepared hiker dressed in cotton who gets caught in an afternoon hail storm, some people have died. Rocky Mountain Weather can change in a heart beat and I have seen snow more than once in the high country in the middle of July. Don’t get caught by a surprise weather event, Dress for success.

So you have got your pack loaded and your route mapped out, lets hit the trail and enjoy a day in the woods.

Leave no Trace Wilderness Ethics Program
Leave No Trace is an national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.

Plan Ahead and Prepare!

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the are you travel,
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of heavy use
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a Map and compass to eliminate use of marking paint and rock Cairns

Travel and Camp on Durable Surface

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Deposit solid human waste in cat-holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cat-hole when finished. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Learn more about Leave no Trace at for training and education about moving throughout the wilderrness without leaving a mark.

Camping and Hiking in Mountain Lion Habitat
Please heed the following suggestions in order to reduce the chances of an unpleasant encounter with a Mountain Lion.

How to reduce the chances of an encounter with a Mountain Lion:

  • Avoid hiking alone, especially between dusk and dawn, when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
  • Always keep children in sight while hiking and within arm’s reach in areas that can conceal a lion. Mountain Lions seem to be drawn to children.
  • Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.

How to reduce the chances of an attack when encountering a Mountain Lion:

  • Do not approach a lion, especially if it is feeding or with its young. Most lions will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • Stay calm and face the lion. Do not run because this may trigger the lion’s instinct to attack. Try to appear larger by raising your hands.
  • Pick up small children so they don’t panic and run. This will also make you appear larger. Avoid bending over or crouching.
  • If the lion acts aggressively, throw rocks, branches, or whatever can be obtained without turning your back or bending over.
  • Fight back if attacked. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks, or bare hands.

Report any Mountain Lion sightings in a park to the park rangers

Check us out at SDC Mountain Works

Hike of the Week: Aspen Vista to Tesuque Peak

Aspen Vista to Tesuque Peak

Hike Rating: Moderate – Long
Hiking Distance: 12 Miles round trip
Hiking time: 6 Hours
Altitude: 10,000 feet to 12,040 feet for a gain of 2040 feet.
Seasonal And Weather: Hike early to aviod afternoon weather and high mountain storms. In the winter this hike is completely snowed in and becomes an excellent place to snowshoe and nordic ski.
Driving Distance: 13.5 miles from the Plaza.

Directions: Take Washington Avenue to Artist Road and turn right (east). Follow Artist Road 12.6 miles, through the Hyde Park Ranger Complex to the Aspen Vista lot on the right, before the ski basin. This parking lot can be full on the weekend, but there is usually ample shoulder parking.

Maps: McClure Reservoir and Aspen Basin

The Hike: This week’s hike is a great choice for those looking for some moderate altitude gain and a solid distance hike. With fall in the air, this is the place to immerse yourself in the explosive and vibrant fall of the aspen leaves.

Just off the ski basin road, the Aspen Vista to Tesuque Peak hike is a well-marked, gated forest service road which meanders six miles to the top of Tesuque Peak and the radio towers. The hike is a pleasant one in the fall as ittakes the hiker through large groves of vibrant aspens in their fall colors, and continues to ascend through Spruce and Fir forest as you gain altitude on your way to the summit of 12,043-foot Tesuque Peak. The Tesuque Creek provides ample water along the route, but use of a water filter is highly recommended when drinking from high mountain streams.

In the fall, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, as the Elk and Mule Deer are active in the ritualistic rut at this time of year. This hike can get crowded during height of Aspen viewing in late September and early October, so remember to get an early start.

This hike is very straight-forward. An out-and-back hike, all you need to do is stick to the road and stick to your guns, as this is a long one. To begin, pass through the gated access road at the east side of the parking lot, which begins your walk towards Tesuque Peak. The walk is straight ahead as you will be following the service road all the way to the radio towers.

In the summer, the Aspen Vista trail is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Elk, Deer, and Grouse have been seen, as well as vibrant wildflowers. As you gain altitude following the switchbacks in the road, you will be rewarded with incredible vistas of Santa Fe and the surrounding Rio Grande Basin.

Once you have gained the summit of Tesuque Peak, you will enjoy 360-degree views of the Santa Fe Watershed, and a view north to Santa Fe Baldy. The return home is all downhill from there.

Kent Little, SDC Mountainworks

Hike of the week-from Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works

Atalaya Mountain

USGS Topo Map: Santa Fe 7.5 Minute series

Hike Rating: Moderate, Short and Steep

Hiking Distance: 7 Miles from St. Johns or Five Miles from Ponderosa Ridge

Hiking time: 3-4 Hours Depending on the route.

Altitude: 7400 feet to 9121 feet for approximately 1600 vertical feet of climbing depending on route.

Season and Weather

Atalaya can be hiked year round, During the Summer Atalaya Can get very Hot during the day and is exposed to lightning in the afternoon depending on monsoonal rain activity.
Driving Distance
From the Plaza Approximately five miles to St. Johns College Parking area and 6.5 Miles to the Ponderosa Ridge Parking Area.

Directions Atalaya Trail Head is accessed from St. Johns College as well as the Ponderosa Ridge Development just above St. Johns College. St. Johns College is located on Camino Cruz Blanca off of Camino Cabra on the East side of Santa Fe. Consult Day Hikes in Santa Fe for Specific Driving Directions. To Camino Cruz Blanca. Once on Camino Cruz Blanca one can park at St. Johns and Hike from here, the trail is well marked or continue about a mile up Camino Cruz Blanca to another well marked parking area for a Shorter Hike.

Atalaya Mountain is a 9100 foot peak that rises just to the east of Santa Fe which takes the hiker up a steep ridge through forest’s of Pinon and Juniper evolving into larger growth Douglas Fir and White Fir as you gain elevation. The hiker is rewarded with amazing vistas of Santa Fe and the Surrounding valley as they make there way up to the top of Atalaya Peak translated as the Watchtower. The Hike is somewhat steep in places but is easily navigable and well marked all the way to the summit.

The Summit of Atalaya can be reached from St. Johns trailhead or (Trail174) for a Seven mile Hike or from the Ponderosa Trail Head (Trail 170) for a little bit shorter round trip Hike. Regardless of where you start the hike, both trails merge into the Atalaya Trail (Trail 170).

If you are hiking from the St. Johns Trail Head you will see an obvious ridge rising in the mountains to the East. Follow the well-marked trail down to the Arroyo de Los Chamisos to a small side canyon that will begin to wind its way up the ridge towards Atalaya. The trail is well marked through here and Dale Ball Maps are available for your reference if you get turned around.

Follow the trail for approximately a quarter of a mile up a small creek bed in the arroyo. There are many signs reminding the hiker to stay on trail here. It is important to note that parts of the Atalaya Trail pass through private property so please follow all postings. Eventually you will arrive at the Wilderness Gate Road and a steep set of Stairs that access the upper Atalaya Trail. In another quarter mile, you will pass through a fence marking the boarder of Forest Service Property follow Trail 174 for another quarter of a mile to reach the intersection of the Atalaya Trail (Trail 170).

If you are starting the Hike at Ponderosa Ridge follow the Adobe wall south from the parking area for a couple hundred feet, pass through the Gate of the Private Ponderosa Ridge Development and follow the dirt road… just past a red roofed house you will see a steep set of stairs accessing the Atalaya Trail (Trail 170). After hiking a couple of hundred yards you will pass through a well marked forest service gate and begin your climb to the Intersection of the St. Johns Trail (Trail 174). Both Trails pass through private property, please be respectful and keep to the trail, if you are hiking with a Dog Please Keep your critters leashed on your way to the public land.

Once you hit the intersection of the Atalaya and St. Johns Trails you are approximately Two miles from the summit. Cruise the well- marked trail as it meanders up and around the smaller sub peaks to Atalaya. This is a well-used trail system and does have some smaller feeder trails, most of which are variations on the main trail to the summit.

As you move higher you will notice the forest change around you and will appreciate the change in temperature as you climb to the peak.

Follow the trail up until you reach the Atalaya Ridge just south of the summit, from here you are only a couple hundred yards from the Peak. Enjoy amazing views of Santa Fe, The Jemez and the surrounding valley. On clear days you can see for miles.

The summit offers a cool place to have lunch and take a break before your return. With the Uphill section behind you the downhill return will seem much easier. When descending any mountain take your time as the trail can be loose and descending is often when people get hurt.

Keep your eyes open for a vast array of flora and fauna in the summer; on my hike yesterday I enjoyed several species of wildflowers as well as a highly camouflaged Horned Toad. Atalaya is a multi use trail, please follow all postings and share the trail.

Written by Kent Little

For More information on outdoor adventure in Santa Fe go to

Hiking the Big Tesuque with Osprey packs

Love this small pack from Osprey, The Talon Series. It carries just the right amount of gear and food for an easy day hike. Brightly colored for visibility, its a good bike pack as well. The airscape backpanel really works well to wick moisture away from your back.

Osprey Talon Packs

Osprey Talon Packs


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.