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Best Hiking Trails in New Mexico – USA

Overview

There are lots of hiking opportunities to hike in the southwestern US state of New Mexico, particularly in the north around Taos and Santa Fe. The main areas for hiking are in the Sandia Mountains, the Taos Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, Organ Mountains, Gila National Forest, Carson National Forest, and many other areas. The best months to hike in New Mexico varies according to the region. Read further for more information on where and when to hike in New Mexico.

Capital: Santa Fe

When To Hike in New Mexico – USA?

Year Round: In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the north, which are an extension of the Rocky Mountains, the summer months are best, while as you get further south, the spring and later fall months are more ideal.  Filter in the map to see the best months for specific regions.
Varies 
Varies: Late fall, winter and early spring are too cold and too much snow in the northern part of the state, while the summer months are too hot in the southern part of the state

 

Climate: In the higher mountains, a continental climate (cold, snowy winters and warm/hot summers); in lower mountains and other areas, varies from arid to mild climate.  In the northern mountains, July and August see a lot of rain and afternoon thunderstorms are common so hike early in the morning and be down before early afternoon. 

 

New Mexico Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Well-established trails with good maps and guidebooks available.

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in New Mexico for hiking:

  • Taos
  • Sante Fe
  • Albuquerque
  • Las Cruces

 

 

Top Places to Hike in New Mexico – USA

There are several areas to hike in New Mexico. The Rocky Mountains extend south from Colorado into the northern part of the state and become the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where there are plenty of places to hike and where the highest mountains can be found. There is the Gila National Forest in the southwest and the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque. There are also small mountain ranges scattered throughout the southern part of the state. Highest Mountain: Wheeler Peak (4011 m).

Filter out hiking places of New Mexico – USA by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Sept – May
  • On the border with Texas
  • Not many trails but the Guadeloupe  Ridge Trail goes through here

Sandia Mountains

  • Apr – Oct
  • Near Albuquerque

Capitan Mountains

  • Oct – May

San Andres Mountains

  • Oct – May

Organ Mountains

  • Oct – May
  • Small mountain range
  • Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument

Gila National Forest

Carson National Forest

Santa Fe National Forest

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Taos Mountains

  • June – Sept
  • Southern extension of Rocky Mountains
  • Taos is a great base and further south, Santa Fe
  • Wheeler Park Wilderness – contains highest peak – Wheeler Peak Wilderness

Ute Mountain

New Mexico – USA's Long Distance Trails

New Mexico – USA's Walking & Hiking Resources

New Mexico Hiking Books: Many books, a small listing below

  • Hiking New Mexico: A Guide to the State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, 4th Edition, by Laurence Parent,  2018, Falcon Guides
  • 50 Hikes in Northern New Mexico (Explorer’s 50 Hikes), by Kai Huschke, 2016, Countryman Press
  •  Hiking New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness: A Guide to the Area’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Bill Cunningham and Polly Cunningham, 2017, Falcon Guides
  • Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide, by Michael Elliott Coltrin, 2019, University of New Mexico Press
  • Hiking Trails in Valles Caldera National Preserve, by Coco Rae, 2022, University of New Mexico Press
  • 100 Hikes in New Mexico: 3rd Edition, by Craig Martin, 2010, Mountaineers Books 
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Albuquerque including Santa Fe, Mount Taylor and San Lorenzo Canyon, 3rd Edition, by David Ryan and Stephen Ausherman, 2019, Menasha Ridge Press 
  • 60 Short Hikes in the Sandia Foothills, by Tamara Massong, 2018, University of New Mexico Press
  • Hiking Adventures in Northern New Mexico, by Joan Salzman and Gary Salzman, 2006, Aventuras Publishers LLC
  • Santa Fe-Taos Hiking Guide, by Bob D’Antonio, 2004, Westcliffe Publishers

 

New Mexico Hiking Associations/Clubs: – there are many clubs

 

Best Hiking Trails in New Mexico:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official park websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Wheeler Peak – Wheeler Peak Wilderness (Taos Mountains)
  • Nambe Lake Trail – Sante Fe National Forest
  • Atalaya Mountain – Sante Fe National Forest
  • Sandia Crest – Sandia Mountains
  • Guadeloupe Ridge Trail
  • Pino Trail – Sandia Mountains
  • Stewart Lake – Sante Fe National Forest
  • La Luz Trail – Sandia Mountains
  • Williams Lake Trail – Taos Ski Valley

Easy Hiking Trails in New Mexico:

  • Dripping Springs Trail – Organ Mountain – Desert Peaks National Monument
  • Rio Grande Gorge Trail – near Taos

 

New Mexico Hiking Websites:

 

New Mexico Weather Website:

 

New Mexico Official Tourism Site:  

 

New Mexico Hiking Apps: 

 

New Mexico Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

Other Important Points