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Tesuque Creek

An illuminated pool on Tesuque Creek

We’re finally getting our summer rains here in Santa Fe, after a brutally dry and hot June, and now the challenge for you hikers and trail bikers out there is, just how early in the morning do you want to start your adventure? That’s because, by about noon, the clouds are boiling up all along the mountain ranges in New Mexico and you’re very likely to get doused by cold rain or even sleet if you’re up on any of the high country trails after that.

Even if you need to shorten your walk, if you can get up to the trailheads by 8 or 9 in the morning, you can get in a refreshing bit of recreation and mountain air. The formerly parched forest floor has plumped up nicely, and the meadows are full of mid-summer wildflowers and lots of butterflies.

Moss and lichen clinging to a boulder along our walk

This past Sunday a friend and I made a short “off the beaten path” visit to a string of meadows along Tesuque Creek, in the mountains above Santa Fe. Creek-walking has the big advantage of minimizing your chances of getting lost, once you’ve left the trails behind, and anyway, what could be nicer than having the music of a mountain stream accompany your ramble?

Steep outcroppings of granitic rock across Tesuque Creek

You don’t need to go far to find peaceful places to just sit and drink in the beauty around you.

An aspen meadow with lots of Douglas fir nearby

Kinnikinnick growing over a stone

A Rocky Mountain maple with those very characteristic crimson spots

Cumberland Rock-shield spreading over a boulder of tonalite

Monument plant - an aberrant gentian - thrusting itself up 5 feet out of the meadow

So make plans to be out early, and back in town in time for lunch, if you’re thinking of making a high country outing. Toss a cheap poncho in your daypack and keep an eye on the clouds. And above all, follow this advice:

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Conde Nast Traveller
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New Mexico True