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Santa Fe Rail Trail

Ride the Rail Runner Express to Santa Fe for a glorious day of art, nature, food, southwest culture, & beautiful trails.
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 15 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Planes, trains, and automobiles ... and bikes (a New Mexico biking odyssey)

Before we begin our trail exploration, let's take a look ... more »

Tips:  - As noted numerous times in this guide, the Rail Runner Express is a great way to get to and from the Santa Fe Rail Trail.
- Pack a... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Rail Runner Express and downtown Santa Fe

Thanks to the incredible Rail Runner Express, this remote trail is accessible to anyone in the world.
The Rail Runner Express is a convenient, stylish, comfortable, and extremely affordable commuter train that runs from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Santa Fe, NM and drops you off right near the Santa Fe Rail Trail. It also drops you off in the quaint... More

This brew pub, located right off the trail, makes a nice stopping spot to rest your trail-weary bones and enjoy some refreshments.
There's something about rail-trails and brew pubs. It seems as if some of the best brew pubs are located near these trails, whether you're in Louisiana, Colorado, or New Mexico.

3. Zia Road crossing

This is a good-news, bad-news "point of interest."
There used to be a Rail Runner Express stop at this intersection which made it ideal for accessing the Santa Fe Rail Trail. Unfortunately, that transit stop is no longer open.
The good news is that you can find lodging near the trail here. The Santa Fe Suites are located on the other side of S. St... More

4. dirt trail begins

At this point, the rail trail switches from asphalt to dirt. From this point onward, a mountain bike is necessary since the trail is not only dirt, but it's also single track with lots of fun ups and downs. Although it never becomes technical or overly difficult, knobby tires and a front suspension come in handy.

5. beautiful and varied rail bridges

As you venture forth upon the trail, you will see some incredible rail bridges. It is heartening to see that the architects of the railroad were not content to just build a function structure spanning the arroyos of the desert. The seemed dedicated to making these bridges as artistic as they were functional.

6. end of Santa Fe Rail Trail

At this point, trail users can either turn around and go back, catch a ride back to Santa Fe, or road bike back into Santa Fe on highway 285.

7. side trails galore

The Santa Fe Rail Trail is good for bikers and hikers of many different levels. The main trail has occasional roller coaster sections, but in general, it's fairly flat with few steep ascents or descents.
However, there are many side trails to suit the fancy of heavy-duty mountain bikers.

8. prolific cacti

It wouldn't be a southwest trail without the ubiquitous cactus plant scattered to and fro on the landscape. What makes the Santa Fe trail so interesting is the wide variety of cacti to be found alongside the trail.
Take some time to look at its shape and distinguishing features. They really are quite fascinating viewed from afar and up close.

9. rail to trail to rail

Many rail trails are build on the right-of-way of retired train routes. The Santa Fe Rail Trail follows not only one but two active rail lines.
As mentioned before, the Rail Runner Express carries commuters and tourists between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It runs alongside the rail trail and can be seen sliding past trail users on its journey back ... More