December 20th, 2021
Hiking in Taos: Top Hiking Trails Near Taos Ski Valley
Graced by the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos, and the surrounding Northern New Mexico landscape is an outdoor lover's playground. Whether you're looking for a casual hike or a bold adventure, we've compiled a list of our favorite trails for hiking in Taos, so you can experience the best of what the area has to offer. And, since we know there are a variety of hikers—ranging from those who consider hiking walking on dirt paths to those trying to summit far-off peaks—we’ve broken our list up by skill level so you know what you’re getting into.
The Best Taos Hiking Trails
Easy Hiking in Taos
La Vista Verde Trail
A true local favorite. Enjoy beautiful views of Rio Grande Gorge with this short and sweet hike. At 2.3 miles in length, the trail offers a variety of unique desert scenery that can be easily shared with the whole family. La Vista Verde is located just a short drive from the center of Taos and is best experienced between March and November.
The Slide Trail
Tucked within the Del Norte National Monument, this beautiful hidden gem offers some of the better opportunities for an easy scenic hike near Taos. Hike along the rim of the Rio Grande and experience views of petroglyphs, archeological sites, and, if you're lucky, bighorn sheep. The Slide Trail comes in at 2.7 miles long and does have a nice steady incline, shy of 600 feet in total elevation gain, but is still very doable for kids or less outdoorsy family members. However, bringing your friends or four-legged friend along to experience this special place may be a safer bet for minimal complaints. Because there is very little shade throughout, the best months to hike this trail are between September and May.
Red River Nature Trail
Bring the whole family along to the Red River Nature Trail, located 45 minutes north of the Taos Ski Valley for a leisurely stroll. The entire trail is 3.2 miles and offers opportunities to enjoy the river and surrounding forest views. This trail is accessible year-round and is an easy hike in the nearby town of Red River that allows for some quality time outdoors.
Moderate Hiking in Taos
El Salto del Agua Cañoncito Trail
The El Salto del Agua Cañoncito Trail sits inside 2,000 acres of wilderness that is rich in 18th-century history and is a perfect option for adventurers looking for a moderate day hike. The trail is 5.1 miles and has multiple opportunities for stunning views of rock faces, creek crossings, and forest adventuring. This memorable hike is located in Arroyo Seco, tucked in between Taos Ski Valley and the town of Taos. This makes it an ideal location to grab an after-hike lunch in either direction you choose. All visitors are required to purchase a day pass.
Big Arsenic Trail
Start your hike overlooking the canyon rim and make your way down switchbacks to cool off in the Rio Grande River 800 feet below. Along the 2.4-mile trail, you’ll encounter petroglyphs and vast views of the Wild River Recreation Area. This Questa-based trail can be enjoyed year-round and offers a perfect balance of breathtaking canyon views interspersed with moments along the Rio Grande River. If you find yourself wanting more, there is a network of river trails nearby for more adventure.
Hard Hiking in Taos
Ojitos Canyon Trail
Tighten your laces and get ready for this 14.5-mile trek located just outside of Taos. This well-marked trail will take you on an uphill journey through the Carson National Forest and offers views overlooking Taos. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks and water as this trail will take up a good portion of your day. The 3,316 ft in elevation gain will surely give you a good workout as well. This hike does experience substantial elevation changes, and snow is a common occurrence during the winter months, so the best months to enjoy the views are from March until October.
The Best Taos Ski Valley Hiking Trails
Moderate Hiking in Taos Ski Valley
Williams Lake Trail
With the trailhead located conveniently at Taos Ski Valley’s Lift 4, this hike is a staple to those living nearby or visiting the area. Named after a well-known gold miner, Williams Lake is ideal for enjoying a packed lunch and surrounding views with friends or family. Rated as moderate, this 4.2-mile hike is best experienced from May until October. The reward of having a beautiful high alpine lake at 11,040’ waiting for you is well worth the hike.
Bull of the Woods Mountain
The name is nearly as fascinating as the 11,618 ft views, but don’t fear, you won’t be coming face to face with any wild bulls. The trailhead is situated right in the heart of Taos Ski Valley and provides optimal opportunities for hiking, trail running, and wildlife viewing (again no bulls). Soak in the best of the summer and/or fall colors in June or October. If you’re not keen on turning around once you reach the end of the trail, there is a yurt available to rent in a picturesque alpine meadow. If you’re interested, be sure to plan in advance.
Hard Hiking in Taos Ski Valley
Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake
Wheeler Peak holds the title as the tallest peak in New Mexico, ringing in at 13,167 ft. If you're looking to continue your hiking adventure beyond Williams Lake, head on up to the summit of Wheeler Peak for a slightly different perspective of the lake. The total mileage of this trail is 8.5 miles, with a grueling 2,972 ft elevation gain. The views from the top will be well worth your hard work though.
Lobo Peak via Manzanita Canyon
Situated in the heart of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area, Lobo Peak is an 11-mile out-and-back trail tucked just outside Taos Ski Valley. This remarkable mountain has an elevation of 12,115 ft and 3,812 ft of elevation gain and won't let you forget it as even experienced hikers are sure to huff and puff along the trek. This trail is more frequently used between May and October to avoid the snow in fall and winter.
These great hikes will help get you outside and create memorable experiences near Taos and the surrounding Taos Ski Valley. If hiking isn’t your thing, discover the countless outdoor activities Taos has to offer.