Sun Mountain Trail

Distance2.03 mi
Elevation Gain738 ft
My Time1 hr 8 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownSanta Fe
Food NearbyWecks

Sun Mountain Trail

On my quick stop over in Santa Fe on the Great Southwestern Road Trip, I was looking for a good sunrise hike to get the day going. The Sun Mountain Trail was exactly what I needed and turned out to be a really pretty hike with amazing views of the entire Santa Fe area.

Getting Started

The trailhead for the Sun Mountain Trail is a little hard to find. There is just a sign posted on Old Santa Fe Trail (which is a road not a trail!). There is only room for a couple of cars on the side of the road and the trail begins in a lot between two house. Please be mindful of the neighbors. There also seemed to be a lot of interconnecting trails on top of Sun Mountain. That or I found a portal to another dimension because the people ahead of me on the trail disappeared up top.

The trail starts out as an easy hike through what seems like an empty lot that was turned into a park access. It is mostly flat for the first half mile with grades mostly in the low teens and peaking around 20%. The trail through this lower section is also pretty easy to follow. You do get a great look at what is in store for you as well!

Sun Mountain directly in front of the trail on the Sun Mountain Trail. This was on the lower area of the trail with some trees on either side of the dirt trail leading towards the mountain.

The Switchbacks

After the relative calm of the lower section of trail it is on to some steep switchbacks to make it up the hill. One word of warning here. A lot of the switchbacks are hard to follow as people have gone off trail to find shortcuts. Remember to always stay on the trail the best you can. I had to check my app a few times to make sure I was headed the right way.

The switchbacks last for a half mile can get steep. The grades are pretty consistent in the 20% range but do reach as high as low 30%. The trail also goes from a mostly dirt and sand trail to an increasingly rocky trail the higher you go. The views are pretty impressive the higher you go as well.

Since this was a sunrise hike on a cloudy day I was treated to some really nice colors. This mountain looked like it was surrounded by pink cotton candy!

A distant mountain is engulfed in a pinkish colored cloud.  The mountain outline is visible but through a pink haze on the Sun Mountain Trail.

As the sun rose a bit more it really opened me up to the views around Santa Fe.

A snow capped mountain range on the outskirts of Santa Fe from about halfway up the Santa Fe Trail.

The Top of Sun Mountain

After the switchbacks you will be at the top of Sun Mountain. It is a pretty short hike at only a mile to the top. The top is nice and large with plenty of room to find some good views and they were plentiful.

Looking at a map post hike it looked like there were 3 trails that split off from the top of Sun Mountain and headed in different directions if you are looking for a longer hike. If you do head down watch your step. I found some of the loose gravel a bit slick on the way down the mountain. I really enjoyed this hike and it was the perfect combo of beauty and effort to get the blood flowing in the morning.

Bonus Video

As I mentioned in the Fisher’s Peak post, I am trying to do some more video for those of you who like the video more than the words. It is still a work in progress but if you enjoy make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all the new updates. Enjoy

And for those of you hardcore hikers interested in the hike itself (Scott) here is an hour long hike compressed into a couple of minutes. Warning it can be a little jarring! Like I said I am still working out some of the video stuff so let me know what you do and don’t like!

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 2.03 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 738 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,944 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hour and 8 minutes.

Effort

This was a surprisingly steep hike made a bit tougher with some slick rocks. Overall it is short so wasn’t too bad. One of the hardest parts was finding the correct path to take as there are several alternates that have been carved out. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.

The step count from the Sun Mountain Trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico was 5,937 according to my Fitbit.

Terrain

The tough part about this trail was following the correct path. The dirt forms paths that go all over the mountain and it is hard to find which one you should be on. At the lower levels the trail is mostly dirt but as you get higher up the trail becomes small rocks that are loose and get slick underfoot. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes that have good traction.

Access

While there are a lot of interconnecting trails that reach the top of Sun Mountain, the trail I took is a little tough to find. There is no parking area and only a few spots available on the side of the road. There really is just a sign in between houses. Make sure you park in a spot that is allowed as there are a lot of no parking signs on the street. The trailhead is located on Old Santa Fe Trail.

Wrapping up Sun Mountain Trail

I sure wish that I scheduled more time for myself on the Great Southwestern Road Trip in Santa Fe. I didn’t know how beautiful of a place it was and the Sun Mountain was the only trail I ended up doing. The Sun Mountain trail did not disappoint!

Sun Mountain was a perfect combination of great views of the surrounding area and some steep challenging grades. Not so steep as to be impossible but enough to really get the heart moving on an early morning hike. The next time I come back I will definitely try this hike again but take some of the off shoot trails on top to see what else I can explore around Santa Fe!

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

4 thoughts on “Sun Mountain Trail”

  1. Pingback: The Great Southwestern Road trip - Fat Man Little Trail

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