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Expanding the four-season options

SANTA FE, N.M. — Looking to become more of a year-round destination resort, Taos Ski Valley has embarked on plans to help build its reputation as more than just a ski area.

“Expanding the outdoor recreational offerings in and around the mountain gives the region more four-season options,” said Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden. “It is part of our continued investment in the area.”

Improvements to the longtime favorite Williams Lake Trail are underway now and will wrap up next month. The improvements will transition the first 4,500 feet of the trail from an uninspiring utility road to a more enjoyable, wooded hiking trail experience. This free, 3.7-mile, intermediate trail is used year round and culminates at the picturesque lake bordered by stunning mountain vistas.

The move also re-routes the beginning of the trail from Taos Ski Valley-owned land to U.S. Forest Service land, ensuring that this popular trail always stays open to the public and adheres to national standards.

“We wanted to build a single track trail that is really beautiful and in tune with nature, and much more esthetic and much easier to follow,” Norden said. “The Williams Lake Trail is a wonderful trail, very well traveled by people around New Mexico and even from out of state.”

It just made sense to create a simple and easy path for the start of the trail, he said.

“It’s also the trail to Wheeler Peak, the state’s highest point. Prior to the trail relocation, it was very difficult to go from the hiker parking lot to the lake trail through the base area and the Kachina Peak area. You had to meander up through one or two private dirt roads. It was not a great experience for two reasons: one, you didn’t know exactly where you were and, two, you were walking up a dirt road.”

While trail improvements will be completed soon, new trail signage is not expected to be up until some time next spring, he said.

Taos Ski Valley will be building two, single-track mountain biking trails to give riders access to some of the area’s best scenery. (Courtesy of Taos Ski Valley)

And coming some time next summer, new mountain biking trails will take shape. The first priority will be two beginner/intermediate trails. These flow trails will offer 6.5 miles of terrain, featuring berms, rollers and bridges. These trails will open to the public in late summer 2019.

“The biking trails and the newly improved Williams Lake hiking trail will give skiers and non-skiers alike terrific new on-mountain options,” Norden said.

The downhill bike trails, with grades of 6-8 percent, will start at the top of the Kachina Basin chairlift, and wind their way back and forth across the mountain face before ending back at the base of the chairlift.

“These flow trails are becoming more and more popular at ski resorts,” he said. “This gets us into the summer business as we’re trying to become more of a year-round destination.”

The plan in the future is to add additional, steeper trails more suited to advanced riders, but these first trails are great for families to try their hand at the sport.

The work, all of which has been done with U.S. Forest Service’s approval, is part of Taos Ski Valley’s ongoing $300 million renovation that has been transforming the resort, he said.

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