Dale Ball Trails in Santa Fe, NM

Dale Ball Trails are located just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hikers can experience different trail difficulties and terrain on this multi-trail system, walking through juniper, pinyon pine, yucca, and cholla cactus. Your breath will be taken away by colorful rock formations and wildflowers.

This trail system can be confusing for first-timers. With multiple trailheads and a wide variety of path options, it may not be a bad idea to stop by the Santa Fe Visitor Center, 210 W. Marcy St., before heading out. You can talk to staff and pick up paper trail maps.


Dale Ball Trails is a massive system of interconnected trails with multiple trailheads. Cerro Gordo is a popular trailhead, providing access to the central and more challenging sections.

You can find more trailhead locations and other information on Dale Ball Trails at the Sante Fe Conservation Trust website.

Route Type

Dale Ball Trails is a trail system comprised of many route types like out-and-backs, loops, and point-to-points.


Dale Ball Trails is a 24.4-mile interconnecting trail system.


You can experience everything from a simple stroll through pines to an extremely-difficult hike up Atalaya Mountain in the Dale Ball Trails system. There are extremes either way but expect a moderately challenging hike on average.


The baseline elevation starts on the high side. Exercise caution if you are a less experienced hiker. You can achieve the highest elevation gain by going to the peak of Atalaya Mountain. On one trail, you will climb more than 1,500 feet in just a few miles. There are multiple sections of the trail with high elevation gain, so plan your hike accordingly.

Hike Time

Hiking time varies significantly depending on which trails you choose to hike. You can spend less than an hour or multiple days on the trails.

Gear / To Bring

Water, sunblock, and UV-protective clothing are essential on Dale Ball Trails. There isn’t much sun coverage here, and hikers can dehydrate faster at higher altitudes than on trails closer to sea level.

Adventurers should wear sturdy hiking boots. The trails are rocky and sandy and can get muddy in the spring as the snow melts. Trekking poles or a stout stick may help navigate more challenging sections.


Pets are allowed on all Dale Ball Trails, provided they are on leashes. It isn’t uncommon to come across rattlesnakes, coyotes, and wild dogs out here, so it is highly recommended to follow this rule.


Mountain bikes are allowed on Dale Ball Trails.


There is no fee to hike Dale Ball Trails.


Parking is available at Dorothy Stewart Trailhead, St. John’s Trailhead, and Wilderness Gate Trailhead on Camino Cruz Blanca, the closest parking to access Santa Fe National Forest’s Atalaya Trail.

Best Seasons to Hike

Santa Fe experiences good hiking weather year-round. The temperatures and wildflower viewing are best in late spring and early summer.


Hikers have given this hiking area great reviews. The Dale Ball trails are a well-shaded, short series of paths with a fantastic view of Santa Fe. One reviewer suggests downloading a map of the hiking area to keep track of the many connecting trails.

Check out these articles to learn about other popular hiking trails:

Featured image via Wikipedia