Northeast of Santa Fe, the Winsor Trail (#254) is a 8.5 mile mountain biking route descending from the Santa Fe Ski Basin at 10,300 feet down to near the Bishops Lodge at 7,100 feet in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The Winsor Trail, also known as the Little Tesuque Trail and the Chamisa Trail, winds its way down through dense ponderosa pine forest with a few short climbs along the way.
The Winsor Trail always gives you a bit of everything, from smooth glides to bone-jarring rocks, from gentle slopes to brake-screeching pitches, from rich aspen forest to thirsty pine woods. Few single tracks in any part of the country offer such a variety of experience in the course of eight miles.
Whether climbing up or descending down, the trail is a delight. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow the entire way, though there are numerous trail intersections so a map is helpful. The upper miles wind through canyons and over ridges that are heavily forested. This is the most enjoyable part of the mountain bike ride, cruising amid the firs on a narrow trail. Cool and shady with slightly inclined grades, you ll wish this could last forever. In fall, the aspen stands along the way turn brilliant gold, giving the trail a unique quality of light.
The middle section of the Winsor Trail parallels Tesuque Creek. This stretch is highly scenic, passing through aspen stands, along the stream, and through open meadows. At times the route is perched on a ledge above the stream. In the grassy meadows, trail widens to a road. With no sudden drops or climbs, this section of the trail is less physically demanding than the others.
The bottom four miles of the Winsor Trail are the most challenging. The trail crosses Tesuque Creek 15 times, and in summer splashing through the stream is welcome relief to the heat. Much of the trail is rocky in this stretch and getting up some speed is not much of an issue. Short but steep grades in this area have been severely eroded. Help protect the trail by not skidding or spinning your tires.
To reach the upper trailhead from Santa Fe, head north on Washington Avenue for a half mile from the Santa Fe Plaza. Turn right onto Artist Road, which becomes SR475, for 15 miles veering left into the lower parking area for the ski area. The trail starts just north of the toilet building for the Aspen Basin Campground at the large informational kiosk.
Note: the lower end of the trail has been getting more and more developed. It just kind of ends at Bauer Road and you will need to follow the road out to Bishops Lodge Road. The parking options are kind of sketchy.