Top Three Rides: Angel Fire, New Mexico

Angel Fire is a TINY little town in northern New Mexico that’s not (yet) on the average mountain biker’s radar, but it very well should be.  Sitting in a huge valley at over 8,000 feet in elevation, the area offers some amazing singletrack riding from late May until late October.  With the dry climate and the high elevation, Angel Fire is typically ready to ride almost a month before its Colorado brethren, and it’s rideable well into the fall while the Colorado mountains are usually covered in snow by mid-October.


The one thing Angel Fire lacks is nightlife, but don’t worry- the riding here will wear you out to the point where you really don’t care about spending all night at the bar or club.  Because you know what?  The riding is that good.  The diversity of riding- from high-alpine singletrack above 10,000 feet to some of the best lift-served riding in the west- is what keeps us coming back to Angel Fire every year.  We’re anxious to show the goods to our clients because frankly, we know they’ve never heard of the place and it deserves the hype.


South Boundary Trail


The South Boundary Trail (or SBT) is the big-ticket item in Angel Fire, and it deserves the hype.  We’ll put the 22-30 mile ride (depending on how you do it) up there with ANY high-country ride in Colorado.  It’s that good.

With Chasing Epic, we’ll start with a shuttle from the Angel Fire Resort up Road 76, as close as our van can get us to the official SBT trailhead.  You can also start at the bottom of the Elliott Barker Trail, which will add eight miles and about 1500 vertical.  From the trailhead, you start with a grueling 45-minute climb to the top intersection with the Elliott Barker Trail, which is ultimately the high point of the entire ride.  The difficult climbing is done for the day.

From the top, you’re looking at 20 miles of mostly downhill (there are a couple of mellow 20-30 minute climbs mixed in) through some of the best, most diverse terrain around.  From the never-ending aspens of Heaven on Earth to the fast, flowy section after Paradise Park, all the way down to the technical rocks above Taos, you’ll have a smile on your face for hours.  Make sure you bring enough water and energy to enjoy the last 8-9 miles, as it’s all downhill and you’ll wonder where Angel Fire has been all of your life.






Angel Fire Bike Park


I know what you’re thinking:  a bike park on a Chasing Epic trip, really?  Yes, really.  The lift-served terrain at Angel Fire is some of the most fun you can have on two wheels.  The lift zooms you up over 2,000 feet, so each descent takes a nice, long time.  Your forearms will be pumping halfway down.

From flowy singletrack that winds through aspens to some of the rowdiest World Cup Downhill courses you’ll find in North America, Angel Fire has something for everyone.  We always recommend at least a half day riding the lifts; we can’t think of a better way to finish four days in Angel Fire!

Some of our personal favorite trails are Lemonade (flow trail through the woods), Boulder Dash and Hungry Hippo (jump trails that get progressively bigger), and Angel’s Plunge (an enduro-style trail with jumps, berms, and smaller drops).





Angel Fire Valley Trails & Elliott Barker


Rideable from town, the Valley Trails in Angel Fire are an awesome way to get a taste of what the area has to offer.  With approximately 20-25 miles of singeltrack right from town, we always make a point of riding these on the first day.  Not only do the trails give our clients a nice intro to the terrain, but the elevation is slightly lower and the overall difficulty is intermediate for the most part.  The trails meander through the aspen and pine forests and offer some pretty sweet descending.

That said, if you want a bigger ride you can climb a couple of the connected dirt roads and link up to the Elliott Barker trail system, which opens up a whole different world of riding.  Elliott Barker is almost always a part of the Scott Enduro Cup competition, which should give you an idea of the terrain.  From wide open (and fast meadows) to technical, rocky descents, you can find it all on these trails.  There are so many options to head back into town, which makes lapping the trails quite easy if you don’t mind climbing each time!

Depending on how many trails we link up, this ride can either be a nice 12-13 mile “intro” ride, or it could be an all-day 20+ miler!






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AUTHOR: Steve Mokan

Steve is the owner (and founder) of Chasing Epic Mountain Bike Adventures, and contributes regularly to our blog. He's passionate about providing customers with incredible mountain bike vacations, and he loves photography and travel when he's not working. Truthfully, he loves those things when he is working too.