Hiking on campus

One of my favorite things about our campus’s location in Santa Fe  (and it’s a long list!) are the hiking opportunities that start literally on campus. There is even one hike–Monte Sol–that you can do, from start to finish, without ever leaving campus! But the most extensive hiking opportunities come in the Santa Fe National Forest, a 1.6 million acre patch of wilderness with a thousand miles of hiking trails, many of which are interconnected–and one of which begins at St. John’s College.

trail headNear the entrance to campus, you’ll find the Atalaya Mountain trail head. From there, the St. John’s trail winds up and along an arroyo which crosses campus, before hitting the poetically named trail #170, which climbs Atalaya Mountain. At the top you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Santa Fe below, and on a clear day of Los Alamos across the valley.



The hike up Atalaya is a nice one in and of itself, but you can also easily take advantage of the network of well-marked trails which connect to it. On my recent hike, for instance, I headed down the other side of the mountain, took a brief detour up to Picacho Peak, and then came down past Castle Rock, a cool climbable rock formation that is a great spot for a rest or a picnic while taking in the view. And I remembered to take some pictures!



My hike took the better part of a beautiful afternoon, included two peaks, a neat rock formation, plenty of views, and plenty of local flora and fauna, with the fauna primarily taking the form of small lizards. I ended right where I had started, on the St. John’s campus.

Our students are able to take full advantage of this natural beauty through our Outdoor Program, which facilitates guided excursions from day hiking to back packing to snowshoeing to outdoor rafting. Most trips are free, and equipment is loaned to students at no cost.  Mike Thurber, our Outdoor Program director, helps students of all experience levels enjoy what the outdoor program has to offer.

Personally, I think the chance to get outside and walk up a mountain or two is a great complement to the work we do, providing a chance to mull over that concept you’re grappling with in seminar or math. And on our campus, getting into the great outdoors is even easier than you might think! But don’t take my word for it–schedule a visit, and see for yourself!


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