Taos | Hiking Devisadero Peak Loop

by Jim and Melanie

For months, we have hiked ever increasing distances and terrain to prepare for hiking in the mountains near Taos. This day, we chose to hike the Devisadero Peak Loop trail just to the east of Taos. We look out the windows of our casita to see these mountains as the sun rises over them in the morning. We arrived soon after 8 am. It was still about 48˚F. The climb was from 7200 ft up to 8300 ft. The trail continued after the peak. It looped around and followed the contours of the mountains back down.

We reached an early vantage point early in the climb which looked out over the town of Taos and the valley beyond.


A lot of prickly pear cactus grew along the trail. Care needed to be take not to bump your ankles onto it.


We were pretty well acclimated by now to the elevation. It was a reasonably strenuous climb. But, we made frequent stops for shade and water.


There were a lot of switchbacks in the trail. We ascended on the left trail and continued on the right. Footing was sometimes smooth and easy. Other times it was loose and rugged. Parts of the trail had larger steps of rock ledges. Closer to the top we got into an area with a lot of round granite rock. We needed to be more careful not to twist an ankle.


Step back just a little bit farther…farther…one more step. Oooooops!


It was a challenging climb to the top for two flat-landers from Iowa. We don’t encounter elevation above 800 ft in our neighborhoods. We were proud of how strong we felt. It was a good feeling to be fit and able to make the climb without feeling exhausted.

The climb down was not as easy as we hoped. Melanie felt a fair amount of pain in her knees. She wore a brace which helped. It took a lot longer that we expected to descend. We got all the way down with no falls or stumbles and no permanent injury. Today we feel fine. We may get one more big hike in before we have to go.


14 thoughts on “Taos | Hiking Devisadero Peak Loop

  1. Steve Gingold

    Congratulations on the successful climb. The footing does sound like quite a challenge and, to my mind, the trip down is often more difficult and puts a strain on the shins although the gasping for oxygen is worse on the way up.

  2. Mrs. P

    Wonderful shots…and by the smiles and waving, I can see you two kids had a great time. I am envious! Having done lots of hiking in my younger days seeing you two brings back fond memories. I would have to go on an extensive training preparation to try to take that on nowadays. Curious as to what the temps were when you got up to the top…and also by the time you got down? It seems like it might get pretty warm there.

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      Thank you. We were having a good time.

      It started out 48˚ at 8 am. By 11 or so, it was closer to 75˚ near the top. The trip down was early afternoon and on the sunny side of the slopes. It felt very warm, in the 80’s.

  3. shoreacres

    Great photos. You obviously were fit enough to enjoy yourselves. I think “down” is harder than “up” for everyone. Even a couple of my friends — one knee replacement, one smashed knee and leg in a fall — talk about how easy it is to climb the stairs to my place, and how hard it is to go down.

    Those prickly pears caught my attention. I’m wondering if they’re a different species than the ones we have. The spines seem longer — much longer. Maybe they’re just healtier than ours.

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      Thank you.

      The biggest pears we saw were about 3″. That is a lot smaller than those to the south. It is probably an environmental adaptation by this species. I’d have to look into that more.

  4. jeanneban

    You should feel proud!! The combination of terrain, elevation and distance must have been a challenge. Not sure we are ready for that but it sounds amazing!

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      We do feel good about that. We’ve been working on endurance for several months to prepare. On our way here on Tuesday, we climbed the volcano at about this elevation. We were very winded with high pulse rates. After being here a few days, it has made a lot of positive difference.

  5. OceanDiver

    Beautiful countryside. Big sky and fresh air. I bet it smelled good too. Congrats on a tough hike. You’re not as old as you thought 😉

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      The smells were very nice. We were quite tired from that hike. Today, we did another challenge. To the north is the Taos Ski Valley area. We drove there early and set out on the 2 mile trail from 10,100 ft up to a lake at 11,200 ft. The lake rests in a bowl surrounded on 3 sides by 12-13,000 ft peaks. There will be a post soon. Bottom line…we were both really pleased at how well we did. Our stamina was good. The descent was fine.

      It is a great feeling to know you are strong. 🙂

  6. farmquilter

    What a beautiful hike!!! Smart to have the poles, they really help. Yeah, going down is always harder on the knees – great planning with wearing the brace to mitigate the damage!


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