Northwest of Sante Fe and south of Los Alamos, this loops start and finish in Frijoles Canyon is usually swarming with tourists, but the monuments 23,000 backcountry wilderness acres are hardly visited. The full two-day loop covers 18 miles and takes you in and out of high-walled canyons and from dry piñon-juniper mesa tops to thick fir and ponderosa pine forests. From the visitor center, hike six miles to the unexcavated pueblo of Yapashi and another two miles to the bottom of Capulin Canyon, where you can camp. On the return leg, take the Upper Alamo Trail to the Upper Crossing of the Frijoles for a final six-mile streamside jaunt.
To reach the trailhead from Santa Fe, take US 84/285 north 13 miles to SR 502, exit onto SR 4, and proceed to the monument entrance and follow signs to the Visitor Center.
Note: the actual trails in the monument are not named and are usually unsigned. It is strongly encouraged to purchase a large scale topographic map of the region prior to hiking.