This is a high-mountain route and is only recommended for experienced alpine riders who know what they're doing, and are adequately acclimated to this high elevation environment.
Potential hazards always exist such as falling trees and moving/shifting rocks (particularly while hiking across scree), exposure to cliffs, high winds, snow and ice, wild animal encounters are possible, and various other things. Be prepared, and have a sense of adventure. Any rescue or assistance, if available, will be timely and may be difficult. It's also recommended to be with at least one partner when exploring these mountains.
Steep climbs, hike-a-bike, singletrack pedaling, more hiking, views, rock fields, a bit more hiking, pedaling, riding, summit. Hydrate, snacks, chill. Ride... The narrow, flowy, and sometimes technical singletrack on the descent is some of the best you'll find in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
This route takes you to all the glorious viewpoints, highs and lows that Northside has to offer. It's the perfect route to build a high elevation training regimen from - in itself it's a demanding test of endurance. You can utilize the Crossover Trail
and High T - Bull of the Woods and Frazer Mountain connector
to increase mileage, both climbing and descending, and create an all-day epic adventure that will whip you into shape for any high altitude race or distance event.
Start at the parking lot trailhead by Twining Road aka TSV Village Road
, or park at the Kachina Vista park on Kachina Road
. Ride up to the Northside gate and head towards the Gold Camp Trail
From Jean's Meadow, continue up the Frazer Mountain Road
, hit the singletracks on your way up - Late Afternoon, Overlook Trail
, Deer Trail
, then back onto the road to the junction with Bighorn Trail
and Marmot Trail
. The ride down Bighorn Trail
is rocky and has a heavy vibe from the mining days around the turn of the 19th-20th century. Park your bike and hike to the end of the road for a close-up look at a steep avalanche path, and view the top of Taos Ski Valley's ski slopes from a perspective few people experience.
Head back up and turn onto the Marmot Trail
, another historic mining road that takes you to some of the most impressive views in northern New Mexico. The road starts off as smooth mountain dirt in the forest, then gets a bit rocky as it traverses under some cliff bands. It's all rideable and soon surrounded by various trees, grasses and wildflowers - keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep, they love the grassy tundra near the top of this trail.
Turn around and ride back down about halfway to where you can see the Frazer Mountain Trail
branching upwards - accessing this trail requires hiking up and carrying your bike a couple hundred feet through a rock field - make sure your footing is stable and take your time to avoid loose rocks (alternatively continue up to the top of the Marmot Trail
then stay on the Frazer Mountain Road
, which adds about another mile).
Once you've crossed the rock field, stay on the old road grade as it climbs steeply through the forest, before leveling out and rolling down to the upper section of the Frazer Mountain Road
. Turn right and take this path to the summit. Enjoy the vastness and take it in - you can see New Mexico's highest point to the south, and views every direction include the ski area's slopes, Columbine-Hondo
Wilderness to the north, and the Spanish Peaks in Colorado. It can be quite windy on the summit but if it's not there are some nice flat spots to post up at for a while.
When you've soaked in all the alpine views from the summit and prepared for your ride down, the sense of anticipation for a thrilling ride sets in. Start heading north to the Wheeler Peak Trail
, you'll see a sign for the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, aim for the left of this sign to get on the singletrack. It's rocky for a while until you approach the highest trees, then gradually becomes smoother before crossing a saddle onto the north side of the mountain. This is the leeward side of the ridge and tends to hold a deep snowfield until mid-summer, you may have to hike across snow for a short ways.
The trail enters the forest for a short but fun section, then drops onto a saddle at the top of the Bull of the Woods Road
. Take a side trip to the top for another summit, of particular interest to see the geologic features of an old copper mine - the top of the mountain was heavily worked and graded down significantly to it's current elevation. Or continue directly onto the Malachite Trail
, a fast-running traverse across the mountainside past some old mine adits, into the forest - be ready for a sharp right turn - then winding down a smooth road grade 'till it pops out on Bull of the Woods Road
Here you have the options to continue riding down to the right or head left up to the Crossover Trail
, loop back around to the west side and take the Frazer Mtn. Road up to the High T which puts you back onto the Wheeler Peak Trail
in the forest.
After turning off of the Malachite Trail
, you'll be on the public access route, anticipate seeing horses and hikers as you cruise down to the Red River Overlook. From here, it's a series of narrow singletracks through the forest - Antoine's Corner
, Jumpin' Jack Flash
, Redi's Run
, Steam Engine Trail
, Sawmill Trail
, then back down across Jean's Meadow to the Gold Camp Trail
, and back to the gate.