Most of the Santa Fe National Forest is now open and is very green and lush for hikers. On a recent hike from the bottom of the ski basin (a 20 minute drive from downtown Santa Fe) to Deception/Lake Peak, we saw lush fields of wildflowers and more chipmunks than I can count.
We started out intending to climb Lake Peak, but when we got to the last teeny stretch to the top, I said no way. The ascent is way, way too cliff-like for me, the scared-of-heights, love-to-hike type of hiker. See picture below to get my drift.
If you’re not brave enough to go it alone, there’s an active Santa Fe Hiking Meetup Group that schedules regular group hikes. You can see what they have going on here: http://www.meetup.com/hiking-399
This hike takes 5 or 6 hours, including a lunch stop, gains around 2600 feet in elevation, and is about 5 miles up and back. Make sure you dress appropriately as it is normally windy at the top and often storms hit late in the afternoon.
One interesting thing going on the day we made the trek is the Forest Service helicopters that were picking up and spreading hay to mulch over the forest areas burned by the Pacheco Fire earlier this summer. Very interesting project to watch. The hay is spread aerially to cover over seeded areas to protect the seeds and encourage new growth. This is just one way the Forest Service helps wild areas re-establish ground cover after a wildfire.