Winding Through New Mexico’s Mountain Biking Trails

New Mexico mountain bikingWhen it comes to moun­tain bik­ing, New Mex­i­co’s desert land­scape has some beau­ti­ful sur­pris­es hid­den when you know where to look.

The small town of Gallup has worked hard to cement itself as a viable moun­tain bik­ing des­ti­na­tion in the South­west. In an effort to boost tourism, locals cre­at­ed the High Desert Trail Sys­tem just north of town. The HDTS is home to the annu­al Dawn to Dusk 12-hour MTB Race, bring­ing in cyclists and moun­tain bik­ers from all over the coun­try. It fea­tures 23 miles of fast-paced twists and sev­er­al switch­backs along the Mesa Loop. Just 20 miles east of town you’ll also find the Zuni Moun­tains Trail Sys­tem. This up-and-com­ing biker’s par­adise con­tains some of the longest sin­gle­track in the state and incred­i­bly stun­ning views once the moun­tains get a lit­tle snow on them.

New Mexico mountain bikingWhite Mesa Bike Trails
Albu­querque has long been a bike-friend­ly town, but in the past has catered most­ly to road cyclists. Head about 50 miles north of town and you’ll find a moun­tain bik­ing play­ground. The White Mesa Bike Trails offer a remote rid­ing expe­ri­ence through plen­ty of fast-flow­ing sin­gle­track. Though only about eight miles long, the White Mesa Trails boast an incred­i­ble dis­play of desert diver­si­ty, with beau­ti­ful geog­ra­phy, stun­ning wildlife, and an incred­i­ble array of col­ors in both the dusk and dawn hours. With New Mexico’s some­what mild win­ter tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the days, it’s the per­fect spot for a quick day trip when vis­it­ing the state capital.

Angel Fire
Angle Fire, New Mex­i­co, is home to one of the most pop­u­lar down­hill moun­tain bik­ing des­ti­na­tions in the US—Angel Fire Bike Park. The bike park boasts one of the largest net­works of lift-served moun­tain bike trails in North Amer­i­ca. It fea­tures both down­hill and cross-coun­try trails. While it offers plen­ty of begin­ner-friend­ly trails and easy access for every rid­er, it also holds some chal­leng­ing routes like the sig­na­ture jump trail Boul­der Dash. The Low­er Boo­gie and Zig­gy trails fea­ture some of the best flow in the park, while the Sier­ra trail offers a more nat­ur­al, hand-built sin­gle­track. There’s also the incred­i­ble Devinci’s Code, one of the most obsta­cle laden, fast-paced tracks in the South­west. The only down­side of Angel Fire Bike Park is that you’ll have to pay to ride, but it’s well worth a few bucks for some incred­i­ble singletrack.

New Mexico mountain bikingSouth Bound­ary Trail
The South Bound­ary Trail is a clas­sic New Mex­i­can ride that tra­vers­es the bound­ary of Car­son Nation­al For­est to Taos. While pre­dom­i­nate­ly a Spring through Fall trip, expe­ri­enced rid­ers with the right gear can cer­tain­ly tack­le it dur­ing the win­ter when the tem­per­a­tures are calm and snow is light. The rough­ly 25-mile trail is beloved for its pas­sages that con­tain plen­ty of smooth and soft high-alpine dirt. It also weaves through a stun­ning­ly beau­ti­ful aspen grove affec­tion­ate­ly nick­named Heav­en on Earth. The rocky race down El Nogal offers up quite a chal­lenge, so expect to con­quer this trail unless you’ve got a cou­ple of years under your belt.

Win­sor Bike Trail
The Win­sor Trail to Big Tesuque Canyon is an 8.6‑mile, high­ly-traf­ficked trail that caters to both bikes and boots. With a mod­er­ate rat­ing, it’s per­fect for both expe­ri­enced rid­ers and those that are some­what new to the sport. The trail starts with a fast and fair­ly tech­ni­cal descent, then becomes smoother—and faster—after the first road cross­ing. It’s the per­fect trail for moun­tain bik­ers look­ing for a lot of speed near San­ta Fe. Be sure to stick to the right at the junc­tions to stay on the bike trail, and enjoy the numer­ous cross­ings over the Tesuque Creek. The trail boasts both sin­gle and dou­ble­track. While the area is breath­tak­ing dur­ing the sum­mer and fall sea­sons, you’ll find it also comes alive when a lit­tle snow hits the ground. Because the high­er alti­tude por­tions of the trail can see a lit­tle ice, so be sure to check con­di­tions before embark­ing on a ride.