With Taos Mountain in the backyard, hiking around here varies from rambles along winding rivers to intensive hauls that gain 2,000 feet in less than four miles. Be prepared for a cold snap or storm at any time, and don’t plan on doing much before May—it takes that long for the snow to thaw, though you might still hit some of the white stuff in the highest alpine meadows even in high summer.
The most accessible and varied trails are along the road to Taos Ski Valley . Off Twining Road, in the base of the ski valley, the grueling trail to Wheeler Peak begins, a 16-mile round-trip that only the very fit should attempt in one day.
The shorter Gavilan Trail is plenty steep as well but leads to a high mountain meadow. The route is five miles round-trip, or you can connect with other trails once you’re up on the rim. If this sounds too strenuous, you can always take the chairlift to the top of the mountain (Thurs.–Mon. late June–Sept., $7) and then wander down any of several wide, well-marked trails, all with stunning views.
A variety of trails course through Taos Canyon east of town, with numerous campgrounds and trailheads off U.S. 64, including the South Boundary Trail, 22 miles up and over the pass, with views onto Moreno Valley.
If you’d like to do a backpacking trip over several days, the options are almost endless, although one popular route is to Wheeler Peak up the back of the mountain, beginning near Red River  and taking two or three days to do a 19-mile loop. Consult with the BLM and the Carson National Forest offices to make sure you’ve got the maps you need, as well as details on campsites and water sources.
If you don’t want to haul all the gear yourself, you can go trekking with Wild Earth Llama Adventures (800/758-5262, www.llamaadventures.com ), which can arrange multiday expeditions March–November with expert naturalist guides. Or you can just “take a llama to lunch” on a day hike ($89) into the surrounding mountains or down in the Rio Grande Gorge .