A Burrito-Centric Guide to Mountain Biking in Taos, New Mexico

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Because burritos make the ultimate ride fuel

I’ve spent most of the past three years living in this strange yet magnetic mountain town. In that time, my off-bike hours have mostly been dedicated to ferreting out the best places to gorge myself on New Mexican food (yes, it’s different than straight-up Mexican) and comparing the relative merits of green versus red chile (the correct answer is Christmas–a little of both).

My research led me to the conclusion that no trip to Northern New Mexico can be considered complete without a good burrito (or three). And since it’s common knowledge that burritos taste that much better after a long ride, I put together a bike-then-burrito (or vice versa) pairing guide.

There may be snow on the ground now, but it’s never too early to start planning the culinary details of your summer mountain bike escape.

South Boundary

A truly epic ride followed by a chili-smothered burrito grande at Guadalajara Grill

While there are a few different ways to ride the acclaimed South Boundary Trail, there's one constant: All will leave you with a calorie debt.

You can arrange a shuttle with Turquois Tours or set one up yourself to ride the entire Boundary from Angel Fire into Taos—this is the classic. Another local favorite is to start in the tiny village of Valle Escondido, ride up the road to Trail 71, connect into Elliot Barker Trail (Trail 1), and then connect with South Boundary Trail (Trail 164). A third option is to take Mondragon Canyon Trail and connect into South Boundary at Paradise Park.

Corner Park on a dry bluebird day | Photo: MTBP Contributor J. Bella

All of these options will give you plenty of leg-burning climbing, beautiful views of surrounding peaks, alpine meadows, aspen groves, and rocks. Basically a little bit of everything that is good in the world. The real descending starts in the aptly named Paradise Park, a beautiful meadow with views of Wheeler Peak (New Mexico’s tallest mountain). From there on, swoopy singletrack through aspens gives way to baby heads, roots, and—as the grand finale—rock ledges, boulders, and plenty of scree.

You'll be starving by the time you pop out at the El Nogal Trailhead (packing a lunch and bringing plenty of water is highly recommended!), so head to the Guadalajara Grill, a Taos classic, to restock on calories. The sheer volume of the portions at "The Guad" make it the ideal pairing for the five-hour ride you just finished. You can get pretty much any Mexican staple here, but for maximum calories-per-dollar, we recommend the steak (carne asada) Burrito Grande, smothered in green chile, with a side of chips and guac.

They also have frozen margaritas bigger than your head, if that’s your thing.

The main event | Photo Syd Schulz

Frazer Mountain

Breakfast burritos at Abe's Cantina to power your pedal up Frazer Mountain

If you're after the best views in Taos, the climb up to Frazer Mountain in the Northside Trail Center at Taos Ski Valley is the way to go. But first, on your drive up to TSV, stop in the small town of Arroyo Seco for breakfast burritos from Abe's Cantina. Don't be deterred by the cantina's nondescript look—invite yourself in and order the sausage and green chile breakfast burrito. You won't be disappointed, especially if you supplement your breakfast burrito with a cappuccino from next-door Taos Cow.

Park in the Taos Ski Valley and ride up the road to the trailhead kiosk. Permits for Northside are $10 to support trail work and maintenance. You can also pick up a trail map at the kiosk. For the most scenic and “easiest” route to the summit, follow this loop. Experience beautiful benched singletrack, wildflowers, and green meadows. Keep in mind, "easiest" doesn't mean easy, especially when you're climbing 3,000 feet in less than five miles. But it is rewarding, and when you see what feels like the entirety of Northern New Mexico spread out beneath your feet, you will forget any amount of pain incurred to get there. And besides, you can always grab another Abe’s burrito on your way back down.

The view from Frazer Mountain is seriously worth the effort. Photo: Syd Schulz

On your way up, keep an eye out for the abandoned steam engine tucked into a ravine on the appropriately named Steam Engine Trail, and on Malachite Trail, keep your eyes to the ground to see the sparkly rocks that gave the trail its name. When you hit Frazer Mountain Road, turn left and grind up the fire road for the final 100 meters of elevation gain to the top of Frazer Mountain. Of course, you could follow this route back and around and skip this final punishment, but where’s the fun in that?

Devisadero

A Toribio's burrito is an adequate reward for Devis' technical challenges 

If you're short on time but still want a challenging and technical ride, check out Devisadero Trail, “Devis” for short. This trail is a lollipop loop with technical, rocky singletrack in both directions. Clockwise is a little bit easier, but there will still be a few walking sections for most riders. The descent is loose with some rocky features and a few tight 'n' nasty switchbacks. This is a great trail if you want to push yourself technically and physically. The faster you go, the sketchier it gets!

Afterward, grab a burrito to go from Toribio’s, an authentic Mexican joint with locations on both the north and south sides of town. We recommend the adobada burrito (pork or chicken cooked in red chile sauce) or the chicken mole burrito. Or (I know, another option isn't helping you choose, is it?) the carne asada with pico de gallo. Really, it’s hard to go wrong with a Toribio’s burrito, especially after busting your butt on Devis.

 

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