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FR150 summit: Santa Fe Ski Basin

FR150 leads to the top of Santa Fe Ski Basin without going through it. Combined with trails in the ski area it can be made into a loop ride that reaches one of the highest points around Santa Fe. This can be made into a substantially longer ride, when combined with a combination of paved and dirt roads that start near Santa Fe. This is an 8 shaped ride, that doubles back on itself. But the distance duplicated in approach and descent is less than a mile. For me the major attraction of this ride is the huge difference in landscapes from dessert arroyos in the valleys to rounded alpine peaks at the top.



01.(7010ft,mile00) START-END SOUTH: Paseo de Paralta, Santa Fe; route turns right up NM475 shortly afterwards.
02.(7830ft,mile04) intermediate high point
03.(7520ft,mile05) intermediate low point
04.(8810ft,mile09) Hyde Memorial Park camping area
05.(9790ft,mile13) turnoff down Pacheco Canyon is on left; profile continues straught.
06.(10010ft,mile14) FR150 takes off on right; profile goes right
07.(11960ft,mile20) TOP: electronic site avove Santa Fe Ski Basin
08.(11780ft,mile20) end of road; continue on ski area trails; profile to next point is approximate. Less steep routes are possible.
09.10560ft,mile21) pick up NM475 at Santa Fe Ski Basin lodge
10.(100010ft,mile24) same as point 6; Continue straight down NM475
11.(9790ft,mile25) same as point 5; this time go right, down towards Pacheco Canyon
12.(8900ft,mile27) stay left for Pacheco Canyon
13.(7210ft,mile33) START-END NORTH: jct NM592 - rte76, north east of Tesuque

Approaches

From South. The ride begins in Santa Fe on Paseo de Peralta, which is a sort of ring road around the old colonial core of the city. On its southern end the turnoffs following NM475 to Hyde Memorial State Park are well signed. The road begins to climb steeply through new adobe style housing developments with entrance gates designed to impress upon the passersby that the people behind them have given the developers a substantial amount of money. Traffic on this initial stretch is heavier than on the rest of the road and there is no shoulder. As the road climbs an early crest, the housing developments recede further into the dwarf evergreen forest and traffic thins out. A short drop and the climb begins in earnest, now in a thick forested canyon with no hint of where the top might be. Many feet of altitude higher, the mountain road passes a picknick area named Aspen Vista. A park bench is situated strategically to take in the first vista since climbing above the sea of houses on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Here FR150 (closed to motorized traffic) starts a moderately steep climb to a transmission facility above Santa Fe Ski Basin. The forest opens once to show the Manzano Mountains as a flat cutout to the south. Another forested section and finally the road climbs above tree line, enters the ski area, and reveals a 360 degree panorama on top. A lake, a short distance below the ridge line on the west side is the surprising alpine extreme, visible on this ride.


From North. (described downward). Rather than returning down the same way, it is possible to take a right fork ( when facing downhill ) at the top onto a service road for the ski area. The road traverses to the northern end of the ski area, then switches back and merges into a variety of trails on the ski runs. The paved parking lot can be seen from several spots along the way, so the time required for this this route can be estimated. If any snow is found on the route it will be on the north facing runs, even if there isn't a speck of snow on the summit. This section involved a lot of walking in my case. But somebody with more skill and bent on riding every inch of the way, I am sure would have no problems never getting off the bike. From the ski lodge the route follows a lazy descent down the paved road back past the Aspen Vista picnic area, but then shortly afterwards turns off onto unpaved FR101 down Pacheco Canyon. The turnoff is not signed and can easily be missed. From here it's what seems like an eternal descent through a forested canyon. The transmission facility on the top of the mountain is now a set of marbels on matchsticks, seen between branches and twigs that divide the sky into a pattern shaped like broken glass. The first section of FR101 is rocky, followed by a smoothly surfaced but deeply furrowed section perfect for a fast descent, while keeping away four wheeled vehicles, followed by more rocks.

There is great difference in landscapes on this ride, but it doesn't happen gradually. It happens in one abrupt step, when the road suddenly exits the forest and emerges onto a low ridge above the badlands of the geological Rio Grande staircase. Surprisingly the ride continues through picturesque badlands, partly being turned to more exclusive housing developments. The final part of the descent is paved and merges onto the Tesuque road.

 

Tours

Dayrides. (MTB+paved): An 8 shaped ride beginning at Hyde Memorial State Park on NM475, traversing the southern and northern approaches as described, then continuing to Santa Fe along the mountains, and returning back up NM475 to the state park, measured 50 miles with 6300ft of climbing in 5:4 hours, using a VDO MC1.0 cycle computer (m3:07.11.7). This includes a couple of miles of getting lost in the maze of housing developments between Tesuque Road and Santa Fe, many of which are loops or dead ends, and are useless from a cyclist's point of view.



pictures: pic1, pic3: FR150 top; pic2: lower Pacheco Canyon


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