Welcome to another installment of our “Trail Town” series of articles. These articles feature a trail running town that you should put on your bucket list of places to visit! This month we feature Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico with a population of 78 full time residents.
Taos Ski Valley is a small hamlet in New Mexico a world away from the everyday. Nestled among the aspens with a cooler alpine breeze, surrounded by wildlife and wildflowers, one can explore cold mountain streams, be challenged by the elevated terrain or rejuvenated by the peace and simplicity.
Taos Ski Valley has a population of approximately 78 full-time, year-round residents, a ski resort, a handful or restaurants and affordable accommodations from quaint cabins and chalets to luxury condos with mountain views. Situated high in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range the village’s lowest point is 9,207 ft and the highest is 12,581. On average, there are about 285 sunny days per year in Taos Ski Valley. The July average high is 76°F. The January average low is 4°F, with an average high of 25.2°F.
The Village and the Ski Resort are filled with trails for hiking and running, surrounded by Carson National Forest. Get the latest hiking conditions on the Taos Ski Valley Hiking Report. Here are some favorites:
- Williams Lake: 2 mile out and back high alpine trail. Starting at 10,200 ft with a 900 ft elevation gain by the time you reach Williams Lake. This trail also provides access to Wheeler Peak. Just before reaching the lake Trail #67 cuts up to your left. Over 2.2 miles of switchbacks take you to the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 ft.
- Long Canyon/Bull of the Woods: Trailhead begins at the main Village of Taos Ski Valley. After .75 miles you can head to the left up Long Canyon with access to Gold Hill and a conjunction of multiple trails connecting to Questa and Red River, NM and offering options for lollipop loops. Heading to the right you ascend quickly to Bull of the Woods Pasture and can access a longer route to Wheeler Peak, 7.3 miles out total. Combine Bull of the Woods Wheeler Peak ascent with the descent to Williams Lake. At Williams Lake trailhead follow the ski return trail, Rubezahl, to finish out and arrive back in the main village for a total loop of approximately 13.5 miles and over 3,700 ft elevation gain.
- Gavilan: For a steep climb, head up Gavilan trail beginning in the Amizette area, about a mile down the road from the main village of Taos Ski Valley. 2,200 ft in elevation gain over 3.3 miles.
- Italianos Canyon: Trail criss-crosses a creek as it climbs up through the canyon over 3.6 miles.
- Manzanita Canyon: Steep trail climbing out of the canyon with 3,400 ft elevation gain over 4.2 miles.
- Yerba Canyon: A gentle incline for the first two miles changes to steeper terrain for the final two miles.
- Northside at Taos Ski Valley: A privately owned park available for day use fee with 18 miles of trail system popular with mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers. Access to Frazer Mountain at 12,163 ft.
PARKING & TRANSIT
Free and ample parking are provided at Williams Lake and Long Canyon/Bull of the Woods Trailheads. Free, but limited roadside parking is available for Yerba, Manzanita, Italianos and Gavilan trails. There is a free shuttle bus in the winter months between the Town of Taos and Taos Ski Valley, but no public transportation options in the summer.
The residents of the Town of Taos are known to be an outdoorsy, adventurous bunch and Taos Ski Valley is their playground. You will find a tight-knit community where everyone knows your name and everyone has a story of their latest trail run or river run.
Taos Ski Valley is a quiet mountain town with easy access, about a 30 minute drive down the mountain, to Taos, a small town with a lot going on. The arts scene is unparalleled with several world class museums. Some of the oldest history in North America can be found at Taos Pueblo, dating back 1,000 years and housing a vibrant Native American community. Foodies from around the world flock to Taos and Taos Ski Valley. You can find world class chefs who left restaurants in New York or Los Angeles to start their own ventures in Taos.
In Taos Ski Valley, Black Diamond Espresso serves up well crafted beverages year-round. Grab a coffee and a protein bar before heading out on the trail. If you want something more substantial, Cafe Naranja has a full espresso menu and a full breakfast menu with New Mexican favorites; sit in their outdoor courtyard in Summer for a cool respite amongst the aspens.
After your run, refuel at Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina, serving local New Mexican beers on tap, as well as excellent margaritas. Full menu of New Mexican fare, great green chile and try the local loco for a protein boost. With a large patio overlooking the Rio Hondo it’s a perfect spot to rest and relax after a good run.
192 at The Blake hotel sits in the center of Taos Ski Valley and offers shareable plates, local craft brews, and signature cocktails in a relaxed upscale atmosphere. Enjoy a collection of fine original artwork in the restaurant and hotel lobby, including works by Georgia O’Keefe.
Heading back down the mountain are several stellar restaurants. In Arroyo Seco try Aceq for farm to table dining or Sabroso for delicious food with a southwestern flair. A little further down the road find Medley with modern spins on nostalgic classics, Common Fire for wood fired delights or Pizano’s for a specialty pizza to share with friends.
Maps of all the trails in Taos Ski Valley are available at the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center and at TaosSkiValley.com.
There are regular community trail work days for the trails in Carson National Forest and in privately owned Northside.
Taos Ski Valley Up & Over 10k Trail Run, August 4, 2018 – Course runs on the summer slopes of Taos Ski Valley Resort creating a challenging course with lots of elevation gain and descent! Enjoy incredible views of Wheeler Peak, Kachina Peak and the surrounding mountains. This year the race falls on the same weekend as Taos Vortex, hosted by Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf. It’s a weekend music festival experience held at Kit Carson Park in Taos featuring The Flaming Lips and Thievery Corporation. Make a weekend of it – run the mountain on Saturday morning and then unwind or party down at one of the biggest shows Taos has ever seen!
Bull of the Woods Trail Races, September 15, 2018 – 10 mile, half marathon and marathon length options on primarily single track trails. This race falls on the same weekend as Taos Ski Valley’s Oktoberfest Celebration held right here on the mountain. After the race run over to the biergarten and grab a stein!
Written by Liz Gaden from the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce. Photos from the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce and Bull of the Woods Trail Races.