The Best Hikes from the Taos Ski Valley!

Hiking on Gold Hill above the Taos Ski Valley, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Hiking on Gold Hill above the Taos Ski Valley

Did you know that the Taos Ski Valley doesn’t shut down when the snow is gone?  For quite a number of years now, the ski area remains open to visitors during the summer months.  This means summer hikers can enjoy spectacular alpine scenery in the southern Rockies as well as escape the heat of the plains below the peaks.  You can even summit New Mexico’s high point from the Taos Ski Valley.

The Taos Ski Valley from the New Mexico High Point, Wheeler Peak
The Taos Ski Valley from the New Mexico High Point

I’ve compiled a list of the best summer and fall hikes (some can also be snowshoed or hiked in winter; be wary of avalanches) to take from the Taos Ski Valley – enjoy, because these are truly spectacular and worthy of the scenery further north in Colorado or Wyoming!

Looking for shorter hikes?  Williams Lake, Williams Falls, and Gavilan Falls are good options.  Long Canyon and Gavilan Trail are other ideas, even if you don’t climb all of the way up to Gold Hill or the top of the Gavilan Trail.

7 Great Hikes in the Taos Ski Valley

Williams Lake, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Williams Lake

Williams Lake.  Williams Lake is probably the most popular of the trails in the Taos Ski Valley.  It’s a beautiful small lake in an alpine meadow below some of the highest peaks in the state.  While you’re at it, be sure to check out Williams Falls on the other side of the lake. 4.8 miles round trip

Gavilan Falls, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Gavilan Falls

Gavilan Trail.  The Gavilan Trail is generally accepted as one of the most beautiful trails in the Taos Ski Valley.  The forest walk works its way up into alpine meadows and then to the ridgeline.  If you like adventure, you can also take the spur to Gavilan Falls or continue beyond the ridge on the Columbine Canyon Trail through a mix of forest, waterfalls, and alpine views for many miles. 5.2 miles round trip

Views from Gold Hill in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, New Mexico
Views from Gold Hill

Gold Hill.  My personal favorite hike in the Taos Ski Valley, Gold Hill can be accessed in two ways: Via an old road and steep trail up through aspen and fir forests on the Bull-of-the-Woods Pasture Trail, or on a gentler but less scenic Long Canyon Trail.  Either way, you get miles of views from alpine meadows and a mountain peak to boot.  10.6-12.6 miles round trip

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Italianos Canyon.  For a mix of streams, forest, and ridgetop views, the Italianos Canyon Trail delivers on it all.  You can turn either direction along the ridgeline for more views.  7.2 miles round trip

Views from the top of Wheeler Peak, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Views from the top of Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak.  Peak baggers will find Wheeler Peak their favorite, since it’s the highest peak in New Mexico.  The scenery is spectacular along the trail and on the peak.  On the way, tag on Williams Lake (above) and/or Mount Walter for even more fantastic views.  9.2 miles round trip

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Manzanita Canyon.  Perhaps the most exciting part of Manzanita Canyon is the ten or so unimproved stream crossings – wear waterproof footwear.  But the views from the ridgeline are worth the hike, and you can turn left up to nearby Lobo Peak for more views.  8.4 miles round trip

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Yerba Canyon to Lobo Peak.  Yerba Canyon is the shortest route to Lobo Peak, which boasts fantastic views of many peaks and valleys, including Wheeler Peak, the New Mexico High Point.  Another trail continues beyond Lobo Peak to Flag Mountain.  8.2 miles round trip

Lodging

There are several lodges and accommodations in the Taos Ski Valley, many within walking distance of the trailheads for the trails mentioned here.  There are also five campgrounds on the road up to the Ski Valley.  Several restaurants of various price points are also available.

Walking from Mt. Walker (2nd highest point in New Mexico) toward Wheeler Peak, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Walking from Mt. Walker (2nd highest point in New Mexico) toward Wheeler Peak

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For more hikes near the Taos Ski Valley, check out this guide to hiking near Taos.  Besides trails, it also includes useful indexes, including wildflowers and regional wildlife.