National Park Service Centennial & Camino Real Trail Celebration, with “Grand Unified Trail System” Study Rides

Terry Heslin of BLM and Steve Burns Chavez of NPS unveil the new Camino Real route marker at Dead Dog Well Trailhead (photo by Sue Murphy).

On Oct. 22, SFCT joined Santa Fe County, the National Park Service’s National Historic Trails Program, the Bureau of Land Management, Santa Fe National Forest, the Santa Fe County Horse Coalition, the City of Santa Fe, and a variety of trail enthusiasts at Dead Dog Trailhead, to celebrate the NPS Centennial and the soon-to-come “El Camino Real Trail” (as described on our event calendar).

Katharine Miller and Colleen Baker of Santa Fe County unveil the plan for the Camino Real Trail, to be built through federal “FLAP” funding in 2017, as cyclists, equestrians, and a flag-bearing “soldado” look on (photo by Patricia Peck)

At the request of the County, and complementing a hike organized by Steve Burns Chavez of NPS, we worked with Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (SFFTS) member Stephen Newhall and Santa Fe County Horse Coalition member Sue Murphy to organize bicycle and horse rides in conjunction with this event.  As a future “spoke in the wheel” of our trail system, and as a great example of the kinds of cultural and historic tie-ins to trails that we would like to emphasize in trail development, these outings along the old Camino Real also served as “Study rides” for the “Grand Unified Trail System.”

Scoping out the “study rides” in the previous week, Sue Murphy and Stephen Newhall visit a piece of the historic Chili Line that will be incorporated into the Camino Real Trail

Among three options for horse rides organized by SFCHC was a visit to the nearby abandoned railbed of the “Chili line,” about one-half mile of which will be integrated into the single-track section of the Camino Real Trail.

Cyclists prepare to set off to the celebration at Dead Dog Trailhead from the south-side River Trail and Camino Real Trailhead at the end of Constellation Dr.

The bicycle ride was essentially a “pre-tracement” of the future Camino Real “Retracement Trail” – starting from the south-side piece of the Santa Fe River Trail and proceeding north on the City of Santa Fe’s  little-known and little-used “MRC Trail” – under the Relief Route and through the chamisas to the Municipal Recreation Center, where we took on a few more riders.  Stephen Newhall then took the helm to guide us to the Caja del Rio “Headquarters Well” trailhead and down the Cañada Ancha, along dirt roads and other double-tracks to arrive at the celebration at Dead Dog Well.  We also took the opportunity to explore the Dead Dog Trail up to the top of the Caja del Rio plateau, and ways back to  Headquarters Well from the top.

Under the Relief Route on the City’s little-known MRC Trail.

Picking up more riders at the Municipal Recreation Center

At Headquarters Well trailhead we ran into the project engineer and NPS/RTCA staff on their way to the celebration. (And got photo-bombed by someone’s dog.)

Following Oñate’s original route north, mas o menos

Celebration venue in sight

Hikers on the flat part of the Dead Dog Trail

Thanks to Santa Fe County and NPS for organizaing the celebration, and thanks to everyone who came out to learn more about the Camino Real and our burgeoning trail system.