Red, Green, Hatch Chiles… Bite Into The Spicy Taos MTB Scene

serious mountain biker at Angel Fire Bike Park Image appears courtesy: Angel Fire Resort

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When the word “Taos” is uttered, there’s usually two things that come to mind: skiing and art. While this is true, another thing that’s beginning to register on the radar for this region: mountain biking. Taos MTB is an opportunity to experience the unique culture of this region AND get a dose of that adrenaline all mountain bikers need. Here’s a list of some of the most popular trails that every off-road cycling traveler should put on their checklist when visiting.

 

A Rounded Vacation Destination

Before you delve into Taos MTB, one thing you need to think about for any mountain biking destination is what else is there to do? Sure, riding on two wheels is fun but you need to have some leisure time too. The town of Taos and the surrounding region has SOOOO much more to offer beyond the singletrack. You’ll find culture older than the United States, unique cuisine, and amazing scenery. We suggest checking out our Taos guide to get a closer look:

Angel Fire Bike Park

You would think with most of New Mexico being high desert, the soil composition and storm tracks would be the same. You’d be wrong. Angel Fire is gifted for what Mother Nature has given it.

The Dirt

Taos MTB scene Angel Fire Bike Park with family
Image appears courtesy: Angel Fire Resort

For starters, while other parts of the state feature sandy, rocky, or loose gravel, Angel Fire is home to clay, making for tacky goodness. Alongside this clay, it’s still sprinkled with enough rocks, boulders, and steeps to keep even the gnarliest rider happy.

 

The Weather

rowdy section at Angel Fire Bike Park
Image appears courtesy: Angel Fire Resort

As the days of summer get longer, most of the western United States’ singletrack is getting baked. What many call this type of conditions is “moon dust.” Dusty doesn’t even begin to describe a lot of trails. But not at Angel Fire. Yet again, this place is gifted with occasional afternoon thunderstorms to keep the soil moist throughout the season.

Something For Everyone

family biking with town of Angel Fire in background
Image appears courtesy: Angel Fire Resort

The secret is out – Angel Fire’s bike park is home to technical terrain to tackle. It’s been the host of many pro races including a World Cup showcase. What many don’t realize is that it offers something for everyone. This isn’t Downieville or Whistler where you keep the kiddos at home and charge it full bore. It’s designed to bring and entertain the ENTIRE family. Of course, it still has scare your pants off goodness but it also has a host of smooth as a baby’s bottom flowy descents that you’ll get your kids hooked on riding.

 

South Boundary Trail

South Boundary mtb trail in New Mexico
Photo by: Collin Wheeler

This is THE Taos MTB singletrack that everyone must ride. Located with the Carson National Forest, most people start near Angel Fire Resort. The 25-mile point-to-point ride is like a close up tour of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It literally has a bit of everything. A sweeping flowy section through evergreens and aspen groves nicknamed “Heaven on Earth.” A few climbs such as the 1.5-mile 350 ft ascent to Garcia Peak. And to finish it off properly, the most technical sections are within the last three miles. Known as El Nogal, expect some fast sections. Some stair-steppy segments. Some fun parts… and even a few terrifying parts.  

 

Things To Know

Most do this ride as a shuttle starting near Angel Fire. This provides smoother ascents and more downhill segments. An intermediate can tackle most of the trail as long as you’re ok with walking a few of the tricky obstacles at the end. It’s a great add-on to the lift-accessed goodness at Angel Fire Bike Park.

Taos Ski Valley

Overlooking Taos Ski Valley in the summer
Image appears courtesy: Taos Ski Valley

As you ascend from the town of Taos, for some reason the peaks look bigger without their snowy blanket. Cliffs suddenly become more pronounced. The legendary chutes of Taos look less like something you’d ski and more something you’d rappel. So, what is there to do in TSV during the summer? As part of their multi-million-dollar investment, as of summer 2021, the Taos MTB scene is becoming a reality.

Green Chile

Green Chile Flow Trail
Image appears courtesy: Taos Ski Valley

Cuisine in New Mexico is its own thing. And one of the key ingredients for almost all New Mexican dishes is green or red chiles. As such, it makes sense that the first lift-accessed trail to be introduced is named just that. Not tongue burning like a ghost pepper, but spicy enough to waken your senses.

 

Fun For The Whole Family

While Taos might be known for its blood-pumping steeps, the goal of the Green Chile Flow Trail is to create something so everyone can get a taste of the Taos MTB scene. The four-mile downhill trail features perfectly contoured banked turns. Fantastic scenery abounds, and of course once you’re done, you can enjoy a cold one at the Bavarian. Now that’s how you do summer!

More To Come

This is only the first step in a series of new trails coming to Taos Ski Valley. Being built and designed by Gravity Logic (out of Whistler), expect much more to come.

Northside

northside Taos new mexico mountain biking trail
Image appears courtesy: Northside At Taos Ski Valley – Photo by: Michael De Young

Just across the street from Taos Ski Valley resort is the Northside. Not just one trail, but an entire Taos MTB network to explore. Starting at 10,000 feet, get ready for a lung burner. Within the 1,200 acres, you’ll find both single and double track routes. Spectacular overlooks. Wildflowers. Sub-alpine and alpine environments and up to 2,800 vertical feet of climbing including to the top of Frazer Mountain. And from what we’ve heard, the downhills are worth the climbs too!

 

Things To Know

Free access to Northside at Taos Ski Valley is available either online by signing a liability waiver at the Ride Northside website or available at the Bull of The Woods entrance kiosk at Northside. DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA!!!! Be aware as of July 1st, 2021, this area is closed to all visitors due to fire mitigation work. As you may have noticed, the West has been on FIRE lately and with severe drought hitting pretty much every state including New Mexico, there’s some serious work to do to keep it safe for all of us.

For Beginners

If these seem a bit daunting, there’s plenty of lesser aggressive trails to sample the beauty of the area and get off the beaten path. We’ve heard the West Rim of The Rio Grande offers fantastic scenery of the Sangre de Cristo range in a very relaxed environment. If you want to ratchet it up a bit for some true singletrack, head to the Taos Valley Overlook trails. It features a few climbs and a bit of tight and twisty turns to give you a taste of what mountain biking is all about.

After our trip a few winters ago and hearing from the locals about just how good the cycling is, it has our mouths watering for some green and red chiles AND some mountain biking in the Southwest.

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