Open Space & Trail Projects

Santa Fe Railyard Park + Plaza

Working in collaboration with the City of Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation, and the Railyard Park Conservancy, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust will help ensure that the Railyard Park and Plaza are maintained in perpetuity as a park and community gathering place, in a dynamic, multi-organizational structure that also includes an active rail line and multi-use rail trail. The Railyard Park and Plaza conservation easement, preserves the scenic open space, natural habitat, historical features, and recreational values.

The conservation easement is part of the larger 50-acre Railyard Redevelopment Project that includes retail and gallery spaces, the Rail Runner Express train depot, picnic areas, public walkways, and community spaces. The conservation easement itself extends from land bordered by St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road on the west side to Montezuma Avenue and includes the Plaza and landmark water tower, an area that has been home to numerous community events since its completion. A portion of the Santa Fe Rail Trail, which parallels the active Railway line, runs through the easement. In partnership with City, County, State, and Federal sources, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust played a significant role in the establishment of the Rail Trail.

The City of Santa Fe owns the Railyard property and is responsible for the day to day City services on the property in accordance with the conservation easement. The Railyard Park Conservancy supports the City of Santa Fe’s regular park maintenance by providing specialized care of the park’s ornamental gardens, coordinating extensive community education and outreach programs, and maintaining ongoing oversight of the park’s horticultural programs and design.

The non-profit Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation provides lease and event management for the entire site, is responsible for the land and commercial space not covered by the conservation easement, and promotes and permits special uses of the park area. Together with the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, these three entities will ensure that the park remains a safe, accessible, and vibrant part of the Santa Fe community.

Sun Mountain Opens to the Public: A Community Success Story

The foothills property near Old Santa Fe Trail made headlines in 2009 when concerns about a proposed development plan prompted “Save Sun Mountain,” a citizens’ movement to purchase and protect the iconic 22 acres.  Working with the Trust for Public Land and garnering financial support from throughout the community, the $3.2 million purchase was completed in 2010 – thanks to this citizen movement.

Just in time for the summer hiking season, in recent weeks the City of Santa Fe completed trail-head amenities; Volunteers and the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe defined the footpath; and today the trail ascending Sun Mountain is open for public enjoyment. Until now, people wishing to gain access to the mountain top had to use a rustic informal trail.

“The preservation of Sun Mountain was a real victory for those who cherish Santa Fe’s world class hiking trails,” said Charlie O’Leary, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, one of several community partners responsible for the preservation of the mountain. “We were pleased to be a part of this community-wide effort to help the City ensure that Sun Mountain and its trails will always be open to the public.”

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust holds an easement on the property, ensuring that land lying at the base of Santa Fe’s Sun Mountain received permanent legal protection and will never be developed. Public access has been preserved and the trail will forever remain a part of the City’s open space program. This land conservation success story was a real community effort by several groups and private donors including Save Sun Mountain, The Trust for Public Land, The City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Conservation trust and the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe.

La Piedra Trail ~ connecting the city to the sky

Hiking theLa Piedra trail from the Dale Ball trailhead at Sierra del Norte and Hyde Park Road up and over the hills and down into Little Tesuque Creek represents a journey of great collaboration. On June 1, 2012 Dale Ball, the father of one of the city’s most beloved trail systems was on hand to help cut the ribbon. His actions came full circle on this day as our desire to link the city’s lower trails with the higher elevation trails in the national forest became reality.

The completion of the trail connection and dedication of over 54 acres of associated open space is a real boon to the community. The success of this conservation project would never have been possible if it were not for the generosity of many community minded individuals coming together both privately and professionally for a common goal that was bigger than any of us; in this case the outcome was far greater than could have been achieved by individual action. Plus it can be a lot more fun working with one another!

The La Piedra Trail now provides three miles of new recreational public trails connecting Dale Ball Trail North with the Little Tesuque Creek Trail. The trail allows trail users the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the Tesuque Valley as well as shaded forests of piñon and ponderosa pines as the trail winds its way through diverse terrain and alongside cool, running creeks.

This link, connecting urban “wilderness” trails with the Santa Fe National Forest via Santa Fe County Open Space and the 13,000-foot high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains high above Santa Fe, enhances and expands the hiking, trail running and mountain biking experience for those who take to the trails each and every day; the La Piedra Trail promises to be one of the most important non-motorized trail connections in Santa Fe.

Since the founding of our city over 400 years ago, trail access to the mountains – and nature – has been important to residents and visitors alike. However, with increased development on private land, the construction of paved roads and the continued practice of fencing lands, all of the major routes over natural surfaces have either been closed to the public or abandoned altogether. Our goal is to reestablish this lost connection by constructing a new trail link: connecting the city to the sky. The many public and private partnerships between the land trust, landowners and our public agency partners make this project unique; there is no other private entity like the Santa Fe Conservation Trust in Santa Fe working on important public trail issues of this magnitude.

La Piedra Trail Map

Arroyo Hondo Open Space — You can see forever from here!

Located just outside Santa Fe and only a 12-minute drive from the Plaza, 87 acres of natural lands known as the Arroyo Hondo Open Space are forever protected by Santa Fe County in partnership with the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Arroyo Hondo Land Trust and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust. Hiking trails from two trailheads provide access to panoramic view of the Galisteo Basin, Cerrillos Hills, Ortiz Mountains, and the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo site and the historic dam can be seen from vista points. The property is open from dawn to dusk. Suitable for hiking, easy mountain biking, photography, nature study, and equestrian use.

Arroyo Hondo Open Space Map