Images from Santa Fe Botanical Garden

OMEP Hikes & Tours

This page overviews the regularly scheduled activities offered at the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve (OMEP).  Please refer to general OMEP information when preparing to attend any of these outings.

The sidebar on the right will list scheduled activities and you can click on the title for details. Or, go to Upcoming Events for a full listing.

Geology Hike: Dolores Gulch to Old Ortiz Mine

Rating: Moderate to advanced
Distance: 5.5 miles
Duration: 4-5 hours
Leader: Steve Maynard

This hike will take us “on foot” from the entrance gate on Gold Mine Road into the Preserve along the 4WD access road, to the Old Ortiz Mine and the Loop Trail.

We will discuss the geologic setting of the Ortiz Mountains and examine outcrops of pyroclastic rocks that formed in the 25-30 million year-old Dolores Gulch volcanic vent, and gold-bearing quartzite at the Florencio prospect along its margin. At the Old Ortiz Mine we can observe (but not enter) one of the earliest hard-rock mining efforts in the western United States, and discuss the 1970s-80s-era mining at Cunningham Hill, about 1 mile east of the Old Ortiz Mine. At the Loop Trail we’ll ponder the relationship of the massive augite-monzonite (a type of granite) stock to the volcanic rocks.

Geology Hike: Old Ortiz Mine to Placer Peak

Rating: Strenuous
Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 5-6 hours
Leader: Steve Maynard

This hike will be almost entirely within the large intrusive mass of augite monzonite that forms the highest peaks of the Ortiz Mountains. The augite monzonite is a coarse-grained, equigranular rock that is poor in quartz, thereby qualifying it as an alkaline intrusive rock. Although this particular rock is not believed to be directly responsible for nearby gold mineralization, it is part of a group of rocks that are associated with gold deposits in the Ortiz Mountains.

We will be able to see, describe, and generally pontificate about numerous significant geologic features of the Ortiz Mountains and north-central New Mexico from the upper slopes of Placer Peak and from its summit.

History Tour

Rating: Easy
Distance: 1 mile
Duration: Half day
Leader: Bill Baxter

Bill Baxter’s History Tour is a walk through historical New Mexico, in the pine forest of the Ortiz Mountains. The tour lasts approx.3.5 hours from the rendezvous at the parking area to the return to the same parking area.

The first half hour is a steep 2 mile drive up into the Preserve followed by an easy walkabout, covering 1 mile total. We will inspect the mina Santo Niño (the oldest lode gold mine in the west, now occupied by bats) and the site of the nearby mina Santa Rosalia, as well as remnants of New Mexico’s first railroad (1867) and other relics of the Mexican and Territorial Eras.  Follow in the footprints of Doña Tules, José Francisco Ortiz, Belle Sweet and Thomas Edison.  Allow a half day for this adventure.

Loop Trail Hike

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 1.5 miles
Duration: 2 hours
Leader: Todd Brown

This short hike takes approximately 2 hours.  Be prepared for uphill sections of the trail. Hike among the ponderosa pines, oaks and sumac, and wander past old territorial gold mines and structures.  Allow a half day for this adventure.

Mining Tour

Rating: Easy
Distance: 1 mile
Duration: Half day
Leader: TBA

The Ortiz Mountains contain the oldest significant gold mines in the Southwest, dating from the early 1820s.  The gold from this area fueled the Santa Fe Trail, and played an important part in the history of New Mexico.  The oldest known lode gold mine in the Southwest is here, now occupied by a colony of bats.  Over the years this land has been shafted and tunneled and sifted and pulverized, culminating in the large Gold Fields Ltd. open-pit gold mine of the 1980s.  In 2002, the New Mexico State Abandoned Mine Land Bureau undertook to protect and secure the many old hazardous mines here.  The following year, under the management of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve was opened for visitors.

On the Mining Tour, we will visit the Santo Niño mine, as well as the site of the Santa Rosalia, the old Ortiz mine, which was dug to get rail cars down into that mine in 1866.  There are numerous abandoned shafts and the remnants of miner’s cabins and tent pads, rusted tin cans and arrastra stones.  All of this is set amidst the beautiful Ortiz ponderosa pine forest.  A stop will be made at a high point on the access road to enjoy the grand vista of the Galisteo Basin and the Gold Fields open pit, as well as the site of the town of Dolores.  Allow a half day for this adventure.


North Peak Hike – NEW!

Rating: Strenuous
Distance: 4 1/2 miles
Duration: Full day
Leaders: Gregg Hoffman, Robert Davis
Elevation gain: 1043 feet

This is a new offering in the Ortiz Mountain Preserve. At 8463′, the summit of North Mountain is the 2nd highest peak in the Ortiz Mountain Educational Preserve. The hike begins at the Preserve parking area (elevation 7420 ft.), 2 miles from the entry gate. The route to the summit follows established trails for about 1 mile before coming to the forested Eagle Canyon Trail. From here to the peak the trail is at most a footpath making its way to the head of Eagle Canyon, then northward along a ridge to the summit of North Mountain.

This is a rough, primitive route, often exposed, with some very steep sections, rock scrambling, bushwhacking, and stunning views.
Experienced hikers only, in good physical condition, should attempt this hike. Sign-up is limited to 6 participants.

Placer Peak Hike (4 miles)

Rating: Strenuous/technical
Distance: 4 miles
Duration: Full day
Leader: Robert Davis

Placer Peak is the highest peak in the Ortiz Mountains at 8,897 feet (2712 meters). In contrast, the parking lot is at 7,440 feet. This is a spectacular 4 mile hike along a steep, technical trail.  En route we stop to admire the views, and identify the plants and shrubs found at this elevation.  We have lunch on the summit.  The views from the top are outstanding.  For safety, the group must stay together.

Placer Peak Hike (8 miles)

Rating: Strenuous/technical
Distance: 8 miles
Duration: Full day
Leader: J.D. Doak

Please read this document before signing up >>

Placer Peak is the highest peak in the Ortiz Mountains at 8,897 feet (2712 meters). In contrast, the starting point for this hike is 6,500 feet. This is a spectacular hike beginning and ending at the parking area located at the front gate. The first part of the hike is along the access road and then transitions to a steep, technical trail.

En route, we stop to admire the views, and identify the plants and shrubs found at this elevation.  We have lunch on the summit.  The views from the top are outstanding.  For safety, the group must stay together.

Plant Walk

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 1.5-3 miles
Duration: Half day
Leader: Karl Anderson

The Ortiz Mountains are filled with an incredible diversity of flora.  From the Piñon/Juniper scrubland as you enter the preserve to the Ponderosa forest in the upper elevations, there are many plants to explore.  Join us on a plant walk, as we identify and appreciate the native plants of our region.

Skid Trail Hike

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 1.5 miles
Duration: Half day
Leader: Barbara Briggs

We believe this to be a trail where large trees were skidded out in the winter to supply the saw mill in the town of Dolores in the mid 1800′s. Approximately 1.5 miles, the trail maintains a steady climb through a canyon leading to a small clearing, where we will take a break for a snack and water, before the descent back to the kiosk. Enjoy this beautiful hike through tall piňon and juniper forest.  Allow a half day for this adventure. 

Tracking

Rating: Moderate
Distance:
Duration: Half day
Leader: Tom Briggs

Learn the basics of animal tracking.  Have fun discovering the many mysteries of the creatures that inhabit nature. This animal tracking class will enjoyably increase your outdoor awareness and ability to find and interpret tracks, scat and signs left behind by mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

close window

Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am