When 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.
White 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.
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.
South 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.