Three Easy Hiking Trails Around Taos

With the weather warming up and daylight hours stretching into evening, there’s no better time of year to get outside!

To the west of Taos, a vast plain covered with sagebrush and conifers spreads out as far as the eye can see. This large expanse of land is dissected by the Rio Grande gorge, which cuts an 800-foot, meandering chasm across the plateau.

From the edge of this gorge, the view of Taos and its towering mountain backdrop is simply spectacular. As a result visitors come here year round to enjoy a variety of exciting outdoor activities or simply to wander through town and check out our art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

Taos itself has a variety of activities and things to do for art lovers, history buffs and general sightseers.

Taos Pueblo (a Heritage Site) is one must see; the longest continuously occupied settlement in Northern America, it is a testament to the simple way of life long practiced by its occupants; honoring the Seasons with planting, harvest and ceremony.

The Ranchos de Taos, St Francis de Asis church, located just a few miles south of Taos, is a living example of adobe architecture, an ancient style of building that has been used here (first by the Pueblo builders), since the arrival of the Spanish missionaries in the early 1600s.

If hiking a relatively easy trail is also on your bucket list of things to do in Taos, there are several to choose from. Here are three to get you started. Make sure you learn the Coyote howl sound so you can begin exploring the large wilderness in front of you, without any hitches on your way.

Divisadero Mountain is located a few miles east of Taos in the Carson National Forest. With close to a thousand feet in elevation gain, this hike is by far the most strenuous of the three walks I’ve featured here.

Yet the climb to the peak can be made in an hour by most hikers. Along the way, this trail provides many outlooks of Taos valley. The trail head is located at the El Nogal picnic parking area on Highway 64, as you leave Taos and head east towards Angel Fire.

The trail is well used by locals, but there is a continuation of the trail network north of the mountain that will take you to higher ground and fewer hikers. If you’re a newer hiker wanting to attempt this trail, you may want to consult this hiking guide so you can properly equip yourself with all the tips and advice that will help you on your way to an enjoyable and successful hike!

To get to the West Rim trail, hikers must drive to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and then park at the rest area located just across the bridge. Here at the south end of the parking lot, there is a level trail that hugs the west rim of this spectacular chasm for ten miles or more.

There is no need to walk the whole length of the trail as just a short stroll will take you through incredible country with relative ease.

The West Rim trail provides hikers with stunning views of the Rio Grande – 800 feet below – as well an incredible mountain panorama of the Sangre de Cristos. On your return to Taos, you can stop at the bridge for a walk across the river gorge and an opportunity to check out the vendors, selling both trinkets and tacos (along with burritos and more) from their vehicles. This is definitely one place in our area you want to visit.

Williams Lake is a high-altitude mountain lake, situated in a glacial cirque at the base of Mt. Wheeler, the highest summit in New Mexico.

Start at the Taos Ski Valley parking lot, where a short trail of several miles climbs through an aspen, spruce and fir forest to this beautiful lake. The parking area is located a few miles around and above the main lodge, near the Bavarian Inn.

Once on the trail, most hikers will find the walk to be a gentle ascent to small height of land that overlooks the lake. Summer and fall are ideal times to hike to Williams Lake, as the winter and spring can bring avalanche dangers, so do check with the Forest Service before taking this trail.

For more on hiking (and biking), Taos and the surrounding areas, please visit the site linked below.

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