New Mexico Outdoor Sports Guide Mountain Biking
If you’re planning a biking expedition through any part of New Mexico, you should be aware of the laws governing bicycle traffic on our state highways.
Bicycle Rides By Region:
Mountain Bike Rides
Road Apple Rally
Contact: Cottonwood Cycles, Farmington, (505) 326-0429
Even if you can’t run with the big dogs, you can run where the big dogs run. The Road Apple Rally course twists along Farmington’s northwestern outskirts. Elite cyclists annually sing its praises during the October races. Locals have staked the trail, and most of it is easy to follow. Some intersections could confuse a first-time
visitor, but Cottonwood Cycles offers maps. Take Piñon Hills Boulevard north 1.7 miles from Main Street (U.S. 550) to College
Boulevard. Take College north (right) 0.8 mile to the trailhead at Lions Wilderness Park. The route goes north a short way, veers west on dirt roads, crosses Glade Road and breaks north again about four miles from the start. It turns into 10 miles of single track, paralleling Glade Road, marked with many a whoop-de-do. It intersects N.M. 573 (Aztec-La Plata Highway), turns east (right) one mile on the pavement, and heads back to the start. (Basic trail, round-trip 28 miles)
Grants-Continental Divide, Round-trip
Contact: Grants Chamber of Commerce, www.grants.org,
(505) 287-4802, (800) 748-2142
The annual Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants sends
cyclist-runner-skier-snowshoers north and up – way up – Mount Taylor. But go south and follow the pavement through a basin, site of the lava flow forming El Malpais National Monument and Conservation Area. Start from a Grants municipal parking lot on Santa Fe Avenue (historically, U.S. Route 66). Ride west on Santa
Fe Avenue about 1.5 miles and turn left (south) over I-40 on N.M. 53. The otherworldly stream of frozen lava emerges on your left (east). You’ll sense an upgrade, gaining nearly 1,200 feet in the 23 miles to El Malpais National Monument information center. The Continental Divide, three miles on, is a moderate climb. (Grants-Continental Divide, 55 miles round-trip)
Mountain Bike Rides
West Rim Trail, Round-trip
Contact: Bureau of Land Management, Taos, (505) 758-8851
The West Rim Trail tracks along the top of the 700-foot-deep Río Grande Gorge near Taos. Start from the rest area on U.S. 64 just west of the Río Grande Gorge Bridge. Suitable for beginners, the trail presents only minor ups and downs. Much of it is relatively smooth, but loose basalt rocks will rattle wheels in places. There is no shade; ride early during warm weather. The trail ends at a parking spot one-half mile north of N.M. 567. (Round-trip,18 miles)
Option: Continue to the road and into the gorge. Paved on top, N.M. 567 is maintained but wash-boarded gravel from the rim to Taos Junction Bridge, a winding three miles and 700 feet down and back up. Get water at the bridge campground.
Valle Grande, Round-trip
Contact: Los Alamos County Chamber of Commerce, www.vla.com/chamber,
Valle Grande is a caldera (the floor of a series of collapsed volcanoes), one of the world’s largest at 12 by 18 miles. Volcanic cones dimple the valley, trout streams wend between them, and warm springs bubble reminders that the Earth remains quite warm. The valley sits at 8,500 feet, cool and suited to summer riding, most lovely in autumn. Climbers start from the parking lot beside the Los Alamos Fire Station on N.M. 501, just west of Diamond Drive. Follow N.M. 501 west six miles to N.M. 4. Turn right (west), at an elevation of 7,600 feet.
You will be above 9,100 feet in about four miles.
Option: Drive the first 10 miles to pullouts at the N.M. 4 and Dome Lookout Road (FS 289) intersection. You generally lose elevation riding west and off the Valle Grande. Redondo Campground is a water stop and turn-around. (Los Alamos-Redondo Campground, 48 miles round-trip)
Mountain Bike Rides
Elliott Barker Trail, Round-trip Contact: Carson National Forest, Taos, www.fs.fed.us/r3/carson,
Elliott Barker Trail (Trail 1) runs along mountains flanking the Moreno Valley and Angel Fire. Its name memorializes a notable New Mexican conservationist. Trailhead pullout is off U.S. 64, 1.5 miles west of its intersection with the Angel Fire Highway (N.M. 434). Crank up the challenging climb for a couple of miles. Then, the Barker Trail runs south as truly as terrain allows, slowly gaining elevation through stands of fir and aspen. Ride through Apache Pass at about 3.5 miles, enter Valle Largo meadows at six miles and soon cross over FS 70 past Osha Pass. Keep riding south, enjoying the views of the valley and neighboring mountains, through Little Garcia Park, on around Osha Peak (elevation 10,770 feet), crossing Trail 164 at about 11 miles. The Barker Trail ends at FS 153 less than a mile farther. (Round-trip, 23 miles)
Raton-Capulin Volcano National Monument, Round-trip
Contact: Raton Chamber of Commerce, www.raton.com,
This ride features a quiet, beautiful road, long mileage, two stiff climbs, rollers and volcanoes. Park in a public lot along Raton’s First Street, follow First north to its end and turn right under the railroad tracks. Turn right (east) on Sugarite Avenue (N.M. 72). At about 10 miles, N.M. 72 crawls up basalt-capped Johnson Mesa
some 800 feet in three miles, to above 8,000 feet. The mesatop is easier pedaling. Notice cinder cones, ranches, antelope, elk and the Folsom Man Historic Marker. Descend into Folsom, 38 miles from Ratón. Turn right (southwest), on N.M. 325 six miles to Capulín Volcano National Monument and a water stop. Food is available at Capulín, three miles south. (Raton-Capulin Monument, 90 miles round-trip)
Option: Turn left (north) off of N.M. 72 six miles east of Raton onto N.M. 526. Ride up through Sugarite Canyon State Park to the Colorado border.
(Raton-Colorado border, 25 miles round-trip)
Mountain Bike Rides
The Rim Trail, Round-trip
Contact: Outdoor Adventures, Alamogordo, www.zianet.com/outdooradventures,
The Sacramento Mountains entice local riders and tourists alike with cool, green relief from the summer-hot plains below. Mark Bolinger of Outdoor Adventures in Alamogordo field-tested this ride. The Rim Trail (Trail T105) shadows the Sacramentos’ western rim 11 miles through fir, white pine and aspen, with stunning views of the Tularosa Basin and San Andres Mountains. Linking old Indian routes, railroad grades and homesteaders’ wagon roads, it is a designated National Recreational Trail. The route is a mix of intermediate and moderate stretches, with canyon crossings being the most demanding. Take N.M. 530 two miles south of Cloudcroft, turn right on Sunspot Highway (N.M. 6563) one-quarter mile to the trailhead at Slide Campground. Ride south, the rim will be to your
right and paved N.M. 6563 on your left. Several roads, such as at Nelson Vista about five miles in, connect the trail and highway. (Round-trip, 22 miles)
Roswell-Bottomless Lakes, Round-trip
Contact: Roswell Chamber of Commerce, www.roswellnm.org,
Bottomless Lakes State Park is an intriguing mix of seven lakes along a mesa.
From Roswell’s Spring River Park and Zoo, pedal a mile south on Atkinson Avenue (N.M. 256), go left (east) on U.S. 380 nine miles and turn right (south) on N.M. 409. Ride seven miles to the visitor center at Lea Lake. Take a swim, if you like. The park road loops up to the mesatop and back out. (Roswell-Lea Lake, 35 miles round-trip)
Option: Take N.M. 409 from the park’s south end 10 miles to Dexter National Fish Hatchery, the nation’s only hatchery dedicated solely to the recovery of endangered fish. Turn right (west) on N.M. 290 to the entrance. (Roswell-Dexter hatchery, 55 miles round-trip)
Mountain Bike Rides
Continental Divide Trail, Round-trip
Contact: Gila Hike & Bike, Silver City, (505) 388-3222
ride is a snippet of fun clipped from a big adventure, the well-marked Continental Divide Trail.
From U.S. 180 in Silver City, go six miles north and two west on Little Walnut Road (FS 506), to the Continental Divide Trail pullout. Cyclist Jack Brennan of Gila Hike & Bike recommends riding south for great views of the Mogollón Mountains. The ride does include a steep and rocky patch that humbles even experienced riders into walking short stretches.
Enjoy the breathtaking view from the crest, or pedal on to the intersection with Bear Mountain Road (FS 853). (FS 506-FS 853, eight miles round-trip)
Mesilla Valley, Round-trip
Contact: Ride On Sports, (505) 521-1686
A graciously flat ride, this is a cruise through the Mesilla Valley south of Las Cruces. Enjoy the rural countryside as you roll through the area’s famous pecan orchards, while thanking them for their shade. Charles Hettrick of Ride On Sports recommends this route: Park at New Mexico State University’s Pan American Center. Ride west on Stewart Street, which runs along the south side of the sports complex. Turn left (southwest) on Union at the T, riding through the I-10 underpass and continuing on to the intersection with N.M. 28, just over three miles total. Turn left (southeast) on N.M. 28 and settle to pedal. Pass through San Miguel to La Mesa for the turn-around. Numerous other roads lace the valley.
(University-La Mesa, 25 miles round-trip)
Mountain Bike Rides
Contact: Albuquerque Open Space Division, www.twowheeldrive.com/bicycles,
Citizens and government preserved this area, buffering the Sandía Mountains from the city and opening up a popular outdoor playground on Albuquerque’s eastern edge. A good mix of beginner and intermediate single-track laces the park. Much is well packed and fast, but there are sandy and rocky stretches.
Get maps of the entire system from the Open Space Division or local bike shops. To reach Embudito Trailhead, one of several: From Tramway Boulevard, go east on Montgomery a half-mile, go left (north) on Glenwood Hills Road another half-mile, and right (east) on Trailhead Road one-quarter mile to the parking area. For orientation, follow Trail 365, which runs north-south nearly six miles, through Elena Gallegos Picnic Area to Sandia Heights Trailhead.
The system branches from Trail 365 deeper into the hills for loops and more challenging sections.
Manzano Meander, Round-trip
This ride takes you from Albuquerque and along the eastern flanks of the Manzano Mountains through land grant villages dating to the early 1800s. Pass through Tijeras, Cedro, Miera, Escobosa, Chilili and Tajique. The route offers a good climb, some smooth descents and rolling hills.
Begin at Four Hills Shopping Center on Albuquerque’s eastside, at the junction of Central Avenue and Tramway Boulevard. Take N.M. 333 (historically, U.S. Route 66) seven miles east to Tijeras and its intersection with N.M. 337. Turn right (south) on N.M. 337, up Cedro Canyon, the main climb. Then, enjoy a downgrade toward Chilili, about 20 miles south of Tijeras. (Albuquerque-Chilili,
55 miles round-trip)
Option: Pedal 10 miles more to the T intersection with N.M. 55. Turn right (west) three miles to Tajique. (Albuquerque-Tajique, 80 miles round-trip.)