Summer hiking in Taos: Gold Hill up and over to Deer Creek Trail

The wildflowers are bursting into bloom in the meadows high above Taos, New Mexico. Now is the perfect time to head up to the peaks above Taos Ski Valley to experience the beautiful and challenging hikes that begin there.

The summit of Gold Hill is one of the most scenic destinations. This hike takes you through the forests, along streams and up into high-altitude meadows above the tree line. For added challenge, you might begin the hike at Taos Ski Valley and return down the other flank of the mountain on the Deer Creek Trail. On both sides of the summit are reminders of the past in the form of ruins of mining sites and an old ranger cabin. The hike has a total of almost 3,300 feet in elevation gain and is about 14 miles altogether — which makes for a long, but satisfying day of hiking.

The trail begins at the main Taos Ski Valley parking lot. Cross Twining Road to the trailhead for Bull of the Woods/Wheeler Peak (Carson National Forest Trail No. 90) at 9,430 feet. The first mile of the hike follows the east fork of the Río Hondo up a moderately steep climb. There are many wildflowers in bloom, including the huge blue columbine, along with wild rose and geranium.

The trail crosses a stream on logs before reaching the turn for Long Canyon Trail to the left (Carson National Forest Trail No. 63). Follow Long Canyon Creek for about 3 miles. This is a pleasant stretch of trail in the shade of the pine forest, and there is often a light breeze to keep you cool. There are many flowers along the creek, including more blue columbine and the pink shooting star.

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