Cerillos Hills State Park has several miles of trails that thread among old gold and turquoise mines in these small but quite steep hills. Interpretive displays explain the geology and mining history.
While the overall length is only about 5 miles, there is some challenging singletrack in the mix. Hiker and equestrian traffic from nearby Santa Fe can be high, but it's a fun combination of history, scenery, and occasionally challenging trails.
Admission and parking fee is $5. There is a visitor center with exhibits: see website for hours.
Weekend traffic can be heavy, so be courteous to other users on these trails which are narrow and steep in many sections.
Popular with hikers and equestrians, these trails are mostly singletrack that include bits of technical interest. The hills are small but steep, providing a good workout. Scenery is nice and the lower elevations make this a good area for riding when other trails around Santa Fe are snow-covered.
The following loop hits the highlights from a technical trail riding perspective. Park and pay fee. Directly across from the main area is J.C. Sanchez Trail
, a one mile old road that is steep in sections. It includes mine features but can be skipped if the focus is on technical riding.
If skipping J.C. Sanchez, ride up the main road and then turn left and climb Escalante Trail
to reach the main area to the west. The trails here are popular and well worn but have occasional sections of ledges and small rock gardens.
After looping around a few times, take Elkins Canyon Trail
as a downhill run that includes more technical features. The last few hundred feet are in a narrow canyon with sections of bedrock pavement.
Note on travel: Waldo Canyon Rd (SR 57) connects I-25 and Cerrillos, but is semi-maintained and typically will not save time especially if it has been wet. Cell coverage in the Cerillos area is non-existent at the time of this writing.
The town of Cerillos just to the south is worth a stop and stroll. The town has a weathered charm that has provided a setting for two movies. Establishments like the store and galleries are mostly open on weekends during prime tourist season.