A Woody Nook

By Tim Kassiotis 

Fall semester 2013 is already underway at SFUAD. But chin up, buttercup! Don’t miss out on the best part about Fall semesters here at SFUAD: Fall!

As Monsoon season here in Santa Fe blows out, it can only mean one thing. That’s right: Autumn is coming! Sure, you may grumble at the thought of colder weather, but just remember all the fun quirky fall events. It’s that time of year when farmers markets are filled with fresh harvest. The time of year when you should really start planning out that epic Halloween costume and perfect that bacon-wrapped Thanksgiving turkey recipe. And the time of year when all the cool air creeps in and turns all the aspen trees gold.

What kind of fall would it be with out the changing of the leaves? If you’re new to SFUAD and do not come from an area with deciduous fall tress, then get on this. Santa Fe National Forest is home to 1,558,452 acres of beautiful wilderness full of the perfect fall tree: aspens. Approximately 30 minutes up the road on the Santa Fe Ski basin is Aspen Vista campgrounds. This is your main access point to catch many trails that intertwine throughout one of the largest aspen groves on earth. Hiking here is a year round favorite. The 12-mile trail has many charming gullies and ravines full of aspens that inspire the iphone Ansel Adams in all of us. However, during peak tourist season, Aspen Vista saturates quickly with people. On any given weekend there can be rows of cars, tripled parked into the road. So where can you get your full fall leaf changing experience with out all that crowd?

Right after you pass Big Tesuque, but before you hit Aspen Vista, there is a dirt road on your left. Officially (and perhaps on your smart phone) this is U.S. Mountain Road 102. No such label exists for this pull off, but it is characterized by a series of red bollards just past the entrance and potholes that might eat your car whole. Once you’re around the holes and down the road a bit, there are many dirt pull-off areas to park your car and meander through field and field of aspen trees with far less people. Call it a “local spot,” but really it’s just a path less taken and obvious.

So what are you waiting for? Go explore! This spot is full of field after field of fallen aspens, a perfect balance beam for any impromptu acrobat. It has several streams and babbling brooks mightier than the Santa Fe River! And for those of you who really look for it, a small log cabin (more of a stick cabin) that is rumored to have a geo cache inside.  So get up there and go frolic before it’s too late, because just like the daylight this time of year, your time to enjoy fall is fading fast.