La Bajada


The La Bajada Trail is approximately 20 miles Southwest of Santa Fe, in the Santa Fe National Forest. To get to the trailhead, take I-25 north towards Santa Fe.  Take the SR16/Cochiti Pueblo exit (#264), which is about 15 miles south of Santa Fe and 35 north of Albuquerque.  Travel northwest on SR 16 for 3.1 miles and turn right on the powerline utility road.  A good place to air down is just before you cross the Santa Fe River. The southwest portion of the trail crosses the Cochiti Indian Reservation, but as long as you stay on the main road, you shouldn’t have any problems with the locals.  Ranging in elevation from 5,500 feet to a little over 6,100 feet, the trail climbs La Bajada Hill, the original section of the road that served as the main passage from Albuquerque to Santa Fe prior to the building of I-25.  Historians believe that this road has been in use for some 300 years.  The switchbacks on the road were supposedly blazed by U.S. Army troops in the 1860's for cavalry passage.  In the early 1900's, because of the gravity-fed gas tanks of the time, many vehicles were forced to use their most powerful gear - reverse - to climb backwards up the steeper switchbacks.  In the 1920's, the top half of the climb was rerouted on a gentler alignment just to the east of the old route (descending this route makes for a nice "loop" trail).  In 1934, the Highway Department "moved" the road three miles to the east to the same route currently used by I-25.  An eastbound turn at Waypoint LB17 takes you to the Tsinat Ruins, a little over 3 miles away.  The La Bajada Trail is about 15 miles long and takes approximately 4 hours or so to complete.

Difficulty Rating:  One (1) Easy
(based on my personal rating scale on the Trails Page)

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Here are a couple of "before" and "after" pictures of the switchbacks on the La Bajada Trail.

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Cumm. Dist.






N35° 32.487'

W106° 16.709'



2.45 mi

2.45 mi

73° (ENE)

N35° 33.111'

W106° 14.209'



0.16 mi

2.61 mi

130° (SE)

N35° 33.023'

W106° 14.082'



0.22 mi

2.82 mi

67° (ENE)

N35° 33.098'

W106° 13.870'



0.12 mi

2.95 mi

67° (ENE)

N35° 33.139'

W106° 13.750'



0.16 mi

3.10 mi

357° (N)

N35° 33.275'

W106° 13.760'



0.15 mi

3.26 mi

50° (NE)

N35° 33.360'

W106° 13.633'



0.20 mi

3.45 mi

9° (N)

N35° 33.528'

W106° 13.601'



0.07 mi

3.52 mi

113° (ESE)

N35° 33.505'

W106° 13.535'



0.49 mi

4.01 mi

58° (ENE)

N35° 33.726'

W106° 13.092'



0.75 mi

4.75 mi

197° (SSW)

N35° 33.108'

W106° 13.329'



0.39 mi

5.14 mi

244° (WSW)

N35° 32.959'

W106° 13.699'



0.12 mi

5.26 mi

344° (NNW)

N35° 33.057'

W106° 13.734'



0.13 mi

5.38 mi

285° (WNW)

N35° 33.085'

W106° 13.864'



0.21 mi

5.59 mi

248° (WSW)

N35° 33.018'

W106° 14.070'



0.14 mi

5.73 mi

313° (NW)

N35° 33.103'

W106° 14.180'



0.25 mi

5.99 mi

245° (WSW)

N35° 33.010'

W106° 14.424'



0.56 mi

6.55 mi

117° (ESE)

N35° 32.789'

W106° 13.892'



0.40 mi

6.94 mi

105° (ESE)

N35° 32.699'

W106° 13.484'



0.69 mi

7.63 mi

81° (E)

N35° 32.791'

W106° 12.755'



0.69 mi

8.33 mi

68° (ENE)

N35° 33.013'

W106° 12.066'



0.36 mi

8.69 mi

85° (E)

N35° 33.039'

W106° 11.686'



0.28 mi

8.96 mi

347° (NNW)

N35° 33.275'

W106° 11.753'

Notice: Off-highway travel is by its very nature potentially dangerous and could result in property damage, injury, or even death.  If you drive any of the trails on this web site, you acknowledge these risks and assume full responsibility.  You are the final judge as to whether a trail is safe to drive, whether your vehicle is capable of the journey, and whether your skills are up to the challenge.  The publisher of this web site disclaims any and all liability for property damage, bodily injury, or death that could occur to you or any of your passengers.  To the best of my knowledge, the information contained on this page was accurate as of the time I road this trail during the Winter of 2002/2003.   However, things change over time.  And portions of this trail may no longer be legally accessible to motorized vehicles.  Therefore, please be good stewards of our sport--always stay on designated trails . . . and always, always remember to Tread Lightly!

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