Northeast of Santa Fe, the Windsor Trail (#254) is a 8.5 mile hiking 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 Windsor 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.
Whether climbing up or descending down, the trail is a delight. The hiking 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. 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 Windsor Trail are the most challenging. The trail crosses Tesuque Creek 15 times. Much of the trail is rocky in this stretch.
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.
Overall, Windsor Trail is the 11th most popular hiking trail of all 39 hikes in New Mexico.