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The Best Trail Runs near the Ancient Town of Taos

Combine ancient human history with incredible mountain vistas on a trip to Taos.

Hiking, Trail Running Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

Rift Valley Loop
Photo: Greg Heil


The town of Taos is a truly unique destination. This haven of artistic expression is filled with art galleries of all types, from sculpture to painting to photography, and beyond. The ancient adobe buildings have created narrow streets that now bottleneck the press of modern traffic.

In fact, the town of Taos is located just south of the Taos Pueblo. The Taos Pueblo has the distinction of being the oldest continuously-inhabited buildings in the United States, dating to sometime between 1,000 CE and 1,450 CE.

The long human habitation in this region of the country has given rise to a lengthy history and a deep culture that begs to be experienced and explored. For history buffs with a propensity for adventure, Taos is also conveniently located against the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Northern New Mexico. The downtown area lies in an arid high desert valley abutting the base of the range. Flanking it to the west is the deep, rugged Rio Grande Gorge. Trails have naturally been built or arose due to centuries of human traffic near the area's prime natural features, such as the gorge and the foothills of the mountain range.

As you head further into the mountains, the arid valley disappears and is replaced by towering peaks. As you go up in elevation, you'll quickly exchange sagebrush for aspen trees and towering pines. And if you choose to take the dead-end road that leads to Taos Ski Valley, you'll journey into the heart of the Sangres and to the base of the tallest peaks in the state of New Mexico.

The trail running opportunities in the region are myriad. Thanks to this unbelievably diverse landscape, you can choose from high desert trails that traverse the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge or even drop down the steep face of the gorge itself. You can climb to low peaks in the foothills just to the east of town or journey deeper into the mountains to enjoy fantastic alpine hikes and bag the tallest mountains in the state—most notably 13,159-foot Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's high point.

Whichever direction you go, and whichever season you visit in, you're guaranteed an unbelievable backcountry running experience that might make you wonder why Taos isn't even more renowned for its outdoor activities. While the historic and artistic sights are flooded with tourists, the trails can sometimes feel downright deserted. But that beautiful solitude is probably just what you're looking for!

Routes included

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