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Chamisa Trail Loop via Saddleback and Windsor

Intermediate
 4.5 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A good mid-distance loop with some elevation gain and not too many people, especially in the middle portion.


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Map Key

9.9

Miles

16.0

KM

Loop

8,531' 2,600 m

High

7,259' 2,213 m

Low

1,908' 582 m

Up

1,897' 578 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

23%

Max Grade (13°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Overview

This is a good mid-distance hike that combines some steep ascents and descents with sections of gentle incline and decline. It's a nice trail in mostly good shape, with some great views and varied terrain. It's also wooded and provides good shade, especially along the Windsor section.

Description

The initial climb out of the Chamisa Trail parking lot climbs quickly and is a bit steep, but it mellows out fairly quickly, and one has done the majority of one's climbing by the time one reaches the saddleback junction. The Saddleback meanders along the ridgeline offering occasionally stunning views of the plains.

It climbs gradually before dropping down a steep, rocky, and rutted trail that leads to the Windsor cutoff junctions. The further descent to the Windsor Trail is pretty mellow with occasional creek bed crossings. The Windsor Trail is lovely, sometimes running high above the Tesuque Creek, sometimes right alongside, with plenty of crossings both of the bridged and more adventurous variety.

The canyon is often narrow and very shaded with plenty of pines as well as cottonwoods, willows, and other deciduous trees, in the spring providing a green canopy above and in the fall blanketing the path a gorgeous yellow. The ascent back up the Chamisa Trail from the Windsor is mellow at first, but constant, and then becomes quite steep. The hike back down to the parking lot is a welcome respite.

Flora & Fauna

I like this hike because it traverses different environments. You start in Ponderosa forest, traverse the Saddleback with some scrub oak, and then drop down through piñon and juniper to the Windsor Trail. The creek offers rich, green, mossy sections with plenty of deciduous trees and the constant gurgle of running water. There is lots of birdlife all along, and lots of deer tracks. Plenty of bear scat as well. The Chamisa Trail, being quite popular, is often strewn with humans and dogs.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Moffat

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 13 votes

#875

Overall
  4.5 from 13 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#9

in New Mexico

#875

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83 Views Last Month
3,028 Since Oct 11, 2017
Intermediate

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Photos

Lots of fun bridges on the Winsor Trail
May 8, 2015 near Santa Fe, NM
Up hill both ways
May 8, 2015 near Santa Fe, NM

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Check-Ins

Aug 2, 2020
John Hersey
Jun 28, 2019
Jessica Lalonde
13.4mi — 4h 21m
Jun 16, 2019
Charlie Gramatges
Only got to do the first part of this beautiful trail before returning to Albuquerque. I'll be back! 1.8mi — 10h 30m
May 28, 2019
Emilie Kitt
9.9mi
May 22, 2019
Nadine Willer
Nov 2, 2018
Brooklyn Orm
Took the trail with one of my dogs!! It’s was the perfect temperature for a hike, and only slightly muddy in some spots 3mi