Angel Fire to Taos: South Boundary Trail

SBT = South Boundary Trail

The SBT is an incredible trail ride that I’ve been trying to do for three years or so now and I finally got to do it this past weekend during our trip to Angel Fire, NM.

The South Boundary trail is a 20-30 miles, depending on who you talk to and what route you take, of super sweet trail connecting Angel Fire to Taos. Our route was 21.5 miles.

south boundary route map

Evan and another fella set-up the shuttle the night before. God bless them. I despise shuttle logistics. Thanks to the majority of the shuttling being covered already, we got an early start riding. I was super nervous about getting lost because I had heard and read that way-finding could be a challenge, but trusted Evan’s research and some random map off the internet.

The ride started with a decently steep climb for less than two miles to the max elevation of the ride of 10,730 feet, but once that was over there was no real sustained climbing to speak of. At least that is what I thought. The climb varied between open sections on wide gravel, rock, dirt road or two-track and a bit of singletrack. It ducked into stands of trees and through open meadows which made it pretty tolerable.

The trail right from the beginning was used so little in some spots that we were riding through grassy patches here and there. Way-finding even with the grass was easy. Large cairns marked the way quite well and there were signs at every major intersection. Some of us even did our part to make sure no one got lost.

The first descent was through a wide open meadow then quickly dropped into the woods. The trail was narrow, the trees were tall, and the light coming through was pretty fantastic. The trail continued to roll a bit for a quite a while but was fast and flowy.

Evan SBT Trees

The beginning portion of the singletrack itself,  past the grunt of a climb, was pretty buff in a lot of sections, with a few rougher sections with roots and rocks.

South Boundary Trail

The descent lasted through about mile 6 before it started to gradually climb again, but nothing super technical, steep, or challenging. A lot of the climbing sections especially coming up to and just past Garcia Park were a bit wider, two-track, or dirt road. A lot of different roads and trails intersect the SBT and there are some incredible camping areas along it, but the only slightly challenging part of navigation that we were warned about was through Garcia Park. We had memorized the directions that we read in other trail reviews, but the trail was signed pretty well and our directions ended up not making a lot of sense. We believe the trail was re-routed within the last year or two.

The trail continued to climb a little bit past Garcia Park through about mile 10, but super mellow climbing with some whoops and more barely there trail. Loved it.

South Boundary Steph

Around mile 10.5 we hit the peak of the second major climb and were pretty confident there was not really much more climbing left. The views were incredible from 10,300 or so feet. We took a break, enjoyed some lunch, and rested up for the second half of the ride.

steph and evan viewpoint

The next portion of the trail was unreal. It traversed along side of the mountain on super narrow, perfectly bench cut, slightly rolling trail with tall trees, perfect corners, smooth dirt. It was big ring cruising time. I really can’t even begin to explain how much I loved this section and how much fun it was. I didn’t want it to end, but it flew by. We covered 4-5 miles is what seemed like only a few minutes. I think it was really like 30 minutes though. I have no idea for sure.

The final section of trail got substantially steeper, looser dirt, more rocky, and much more technical, but dang! was it fun.

south boundary corner

As a group we caught several flats in the last few miles of trail, but none of us were in a hurry so we just enjoyed the views down into Taos while we waited.

The last section of trail (1-2 miles) had some real hairpin turns and were really steep, but at least they were on more packed dirt so they weren’t too bad. The final descent was bittersweet. I was excited to have checked off such a big ride, but I enjoyed every section of the trail so much I  didn’t want it to be over.

south boundary trail elevation

We were pumped that the truck was still there and hadn’t been towed, thanks to a thoughtful note that Evan left on the window the night before. We had met some folks on the trail that ended up to be our parking lot neighbors and they confirmed that the red Tundra was there so we cold breathe easy for the last section of trail knowing that the truck and cold beer awaited us.

The boys were thinking ahead when they set-up the shuttle and had stashed a cooler with some PBR in the truck. All seven of us were just glowing as we cheers’d the amazing ride.

So now you want to ride it yourself? Well, here are the deets as I have them. Or just get all our GPS info from Garmin Connect.

  • Start Trailhead: We picked up the trailhead where it crosses FR 76. Take the trail to the right that starts climbing.
  • Finish Trailhead: Just east of 585 on 64. As you’re coming into Taos it is on the left.
  • Way-finding:  Follow signs for 164 all the way. Some are brown sticks with numbers, but there are also a lot that are large fence posts with red arrows and writing. Garcia Park can be confusing but was signed well for us. Intersections that aren’t marked are pretty obvious. There was one just after Garcia Park where a road went right, but the trail continued left. There are well-built cairns marking the trail as well. As you near Taos the trail gets much more heavily trafficked. Near the end of the ride (about 1 mile left) take a hard right to go to the parking lot.
  • Total Length:  21.47 miles as we rode it.
  • Start Elevation: 9,930 feet
  • Finish Elevation: 7,179 feet
  • Elevation Gain: 1,808 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 4,548 feet
  • Timing:  We were on trail for just shy of 5 hours, but our moving time was under 2:30 and we taking it very mellow. I would suspect that strong riders can do it in 2-2:30 with no stops or mechanicals.
  • Maps: We didn’t use one, but you can find our GPS track above.
  • Post Ride: Head to Guadalajara Grill to refuel with Mexican food and Margs.

If you don’t like this ride, you hate fun.

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