The Santa Fe Conservation Trust
301 Thornton Ranch Road, Lamy, NM
Total Length: 4.5 Miles
Motorized Vehicles: No
Dog Friendly?: Yes
Open dawn to dusk to hikers, bikers and equestrians
Many parts of the property are being restored, so please stay on the trails or in the arroyos
We still need to create a parking area, so for now, please park at the Cottonwood Trailhead.
The Conservation Homestead is located at the end of Thornton Ranch Road.
Descriptions of the individual trail sections can be found below.
Join us for the grand opening of The Conservation Homestead on October 15, 2022!
The Santa Fe Conservation Trust (SFCT) wants to show you the power of conservation at SFCT’s Conservation Homestead and its four miles of brand new trails. In March 2020, thanks to the support of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, SFCT was able to purchase this 300-acre parcel in the Galisteo Basin that, had it been developed, would have created a housing cluster in an otherwise wide-open landscape.
This is a place where people have lived for centuries and is the unceded territory of the Tewa and Tano people, who were the original stewards of the land. It is also home to many native plants and animals, and part of an important corridor allowing plants and animals the ability to roam and adapt to a changing climate. And because of the density of conservation easements held by SFCT in this area, it is a major focal point for our conservation work and an area where we work to connect our protected properties to provide critical connectivity to impact the loss of biodiversity and climate change in this region.
Originally, the idea was to purchase the property with the help of the Thaw Charitable Trust, protect it with a conservation easement and transfer it to a public agency for open space. But after SFCT purchased it, the board and staff realized we had the opportunity not just to protect it with a conservation easement but also to use it as a demonstration site to showcase land restoration techniques that will lessen the effects of climate change on this and similar landscapes.
The Homestead also offered SFCT the opportunity to provide you with more public recreation through a four-mile trail system that links to the existing 50 miles of trails at the Galisteo Basin Preserve. And finally, because SFCT is committed to providing equitable access to nature, The Homestead’s public access will eventually include an accessible trail for people with mobility challenges. By keeping the property and implementing these visions, SFCT can expand recreational access for the community, expand the connectivity of conserved lands in the region, integrate restoration education into its conservation work, and showcase all of it at The Homestead.
Open to the public from dawn to dusk, the Conservation Homestead features four miles of new trails that connect to the 50 miles of trails at the Galisteo Basin Preserve. All of The Homestead trails are open to hikers, bikers and equestrians. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the property.
SFCT has plans to construct an accessible trail at The Homestead to provide everyone more equitable access to the outdoors. Its route has been flagged and we hope to have user groups assess it and give us feedback before constructing it. If you would like to help fund this effort, please contact us.
The North Trail is an easy-to-moderately difficult natural-surface single-track trail that crosses the Conservation Homestead property north of the Arroyo de los Angeles for 8/10 of a mile. It continues to Galisteo Basin Preserve Trails to the east (“Nana’s Surprise” near Junction 27) and west (“Galante’s Gambol”). At a location where it winds through some interesting Espinoza rock formations, the North Trail also has a short connection north to GBP Junction 43 at “Mark’s Reach,” for a total of roughly one mile of trail on the Conservation Homestead.
The North Trail Connectors are two easy natural-surface single-track trails of about 1/10 of a mile each connecting the central Loop Trail to the North Trail.
The South Trail is a 1.4-mile natural-surface single-track trail south of the Arroyo de los Angeles connecting the Loop Trail to GBP’s new “Zip-a-Dee Doo Dawg” trail to the west. As one heads south, a small spur on the slope of the “Little Hill” provides a wonderful view of the former homestead site on the Arroyo de los Angeles. At about the one-mile point, the South Trail transitions from a fairly easy route to one with challenging, steep and rocky sections on the “Big Hill.” On the top of the Big Hill, the South Trail offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Galisteo Basin and surrounding mountain ranges.
The future Shelf Trail will provide an alternate route on the Big Hill that will traverse a flat area below the peak. It will have a steep section to gain access to the flat area, but will be far less rocky than the South Trail and may thus provide a better alternative for equestrians. Only the east end has been built, to a saddle view off of the South Trail. The total length of the Shelf Trail will be about 4/10 of a mile.
The Loop Trail is a half-mile of easy double-track and former double-track in the vicinity of the old homestead site. It includes the end of Thornton Ranch Rd., which is closed to motor vehicles, and SFCT’s new driveway providing access to the former homestead site and well. A short section near the Arroyo de los Angeles is currently a narrow natural-surface trail. SFCT plans to convert the Loop Trail into a more accessible facility that can be easily enjoyed by a wide range of trail users.
Arroyo Trails are wide, sandy arroyos open to foot and horse traffic as well as bicycles that can negotiate the sandy surface. They include the Arroyo de los Angeles (just under one mile in length on the Conservation Homestead Property) and its unnamed tributary coming from the northwest corner of the property (about ½ mile). The Arroyo de los Angeles continues as a trail alignment for several miles to the east and west in the Galisteo Basin Preserve, while the “Northwest Arroyo” provides access to GBP’s “Galante’s Gambol” just as it leaves the Conservation Homestead Property.
Conservation Homestead Trails in place as of Oct. 7, 2022
North Trail, w Connection to GBP: 0.9 miles
North Trail Connectors: 0.2 miles
South Trail: 1.4 miles
Loop Trail: 0.5 miles
Arroyo de los Angeles: 1.0 miles
Northwest Arroyo: 0.4 miles
Shelf Trail*: 0.1 miles
Total Length: 4.5 miles
* – Unfinished: Eventual length 0.4 mile
How The Conservation Homestead Contributes to Landscape-Scale Conservation
The biodiversity crisis and climate change also presented an opportunity for SFCT to show how our focus on connectivity and landscape-scale conservation could positively impact these two existential threats. Of the more than 44,000 acres we currently protect in a three-county region in northern New Mexico, none is perhaps more threatened by these issues than the Galisteo Basin Watershed, where SFCT has more than 15,000 acres protected as of 2021. It is one of the larger stretches of privately owned lands in the Western Wildway Network, a wildlife corridor stretching along the spine of the continent, from Alaska, through the Rocky Mountains, all the way south to the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico. The Conservation Homestead gave SFCT the opportunity to stop a development cluster in this important wildlife corridor and showcase restoration methods that will improve the biodiversity of this unique area.
Long-Term Land Restoration is Underway at The Conservation Homestead
Surrounded by almost 6,000 acres of contiguous SFCT conservation easements, the purchase of The Conservation Homestead is a huge leap forward in protecting the remnants of Native American habitation, telling the stories of the land and plugging a potential development cluster. The Thaw Charitable Trust wanted to see the land return to a more natural state, so part of their support helped SFCT address the health of the land by reseeding the homestead area where buildings used to be to support habitat for wildlife and native/migratory birds. Because The Homestead’s piñon/juniper terrain is similar to that of many other landowners, workshops and workdays on erosion control techniques occurred in early 2021 and through 2022 to teach trail builders and other landowners how to avoid erosion, slow runoff and spread rainwater over the land. Swampers and sawyers have helped take out the invasive elms and junipers in an overgrown wetland. Subsequent workdays involved building wicker weirs to force water to meander through the wetland so it could deposit sediments and sink back in to the aquifer.
Our ten year management goals include finishing the accessible trail, installing wildlife drinkers, improving the grasslands, reseeding the areas where the buildings used to be, continuing to build erosion control structures, bringing the wetland back to life, building partnerships and collaborations, installing interpretive signage and implementing educational programs for people of all ages. We hope you’ll join us in this work!
The Conservation Homestead is a special place of wide-open views and peacefulness, multidimensional history, and a place where anyone can come to relax, recreate, and experience nature. We hope that the restoration projects underway at The Homestead will inspire others to nurture and care for their land, and that the experience of being on the property will build a passionate, curious, informed and diverse conservation community while igniting a passion for nature in all who visit.
2020 Annual Report
SFCT's 2020 Annual Report / 2021 Newsletter is hot off the press! Inside, learn about climate change action and our part in it, updates on our mission programs, and much more. Click on the image or HERE to download the PDF.
Thank You to All Those Who Have Volunteered on The Conservation Homestead!
Institute for Applied Ecology YCC crew and Forest Bound students
The DDC Group
Christine Van Dornick
David Van Dornick
Shay Shay Namchak