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I love nature, and I love to explore. I also love to sleep under the stars. I also love to hike, camp and campfire. So, needless to say, I love camping. There’s nothing better than waking up in the middle of the night and have a campfire going with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.

The Carson National Forest, in northern New Mexico, is a vast expanse of seemingly endless forest land, with countless activities to enjoy. From fishing to camping, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, running, sightseeing, and more, there is a never a dull moment, no matter which corner of the forest you find yourself in. Much of the forest, especially in the northern region, is untouched by humans, so you will feel as though you have stepped back in time.

As New Mexico’s first National Forest, Carson National Forest is no stranger to adventure-seekers. It’s one of the most visited spots in the state, thanks to its close proximity to Taos Ski Valley, the Pecos Wilderness, and the Historic Route 66. With a full range of visitor services, you’ll never go without while exploring this diverse land.

Even though Carson National Forest is fairly small by national forest standards (1.4 million acres), it is still pretty huge. For those who don’t know, the forest is located just east of Taos, New Mexico, and stretches from the Colorado border in the south to the Wyoming border in the north. So, if you are planning to do some hiking in the Carson, you will need to know where to find some of the more popular trails. Here are five trails that should be on every hiker’s itinerary.

  • Lost Lake Loop

This is a beautiful trail, just right for a day hike or a full weekend. As with all trails in the Carson National Forest, Lost Lake Trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. To get to the trailhead from Taos, head south on Route 522 and take a left on Forest Road (FR) 126. The hike is best enjoyed in spring and fall when the crowds are lighter, and the temperatures are more tolerable. The hike begins with a climb through a small pine forest. In about a mile and a half, the trail reaches a shaded area with a rock wall and a trickling stream. The trail continues to climb up and down through increasingly larger pine forests.

  • Bull Of The Woods To Wheeler

Located in northern New Mexico, Carson National Forest attracts visitors from around the world because of its stunning vistas, varied ecosystems, and abundance of outdoor recreation options. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders can explore the forest’s more than 500 miles of trails, including a 96-mile section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

For those who prefer to leave the pavement behind, the forest is home to more than 700 miles of dirt roads and trails for off-highway vehicle travel, and the forest’s more than 4,500 lakes attract anglers from across the globe.

  • Columbine Canyon

The Columbine Canyon trail is part of the Carson National Forest and is ranked as a hard trail by the Forest Service. It boasts five named lakes and some of the most spectacular scenery in the area.

  • South Boundary

The Sandia Mountains are often called “The place of the shining waters” by the Navajo people. Traveling south on Highway 165 from Albuquerque, one will discover their meaning. The very first trailhead is the South Boundary Trail, which follows the south boundary of the Carson National Forest. It is about 8 miles long and provides a view of the Rio Grande Gorge. It is advised that you bring a compass and that you carry plenty of water at all times.

  • Elephant Rock

Five trails in Carson National Forest Elephant rock (a multi-day hike) are a wonderful part of the United States. A great feature of the hikes is that they are easy to get to. The trails usually take four to five hours to hike. They are all moderate, with a great view at the top. The first trail is the one that leads to the waterfall. The second trail leads to the highest point in the forest. The third trail leads to the reservoir. The fourth trail is a loop that includes the reservoir and the waterfall. The fifth trail leads to the highest point in the forest.

There are many trails in the Carson National Forest that will give you a great outdoor experience. The trails range from easy to difficult, and the length of the trail will also vary. The trails are located between Santa Fe and Taos. If you decide to visit any of these trails, there is a great chance you will enjoy the beauty of the forest, and you will meet friendly people along the way.

Ben Williams