Hiking in Ruidoso: A Guide to the Best Trails in the Area

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If you’re looking for a fun and challenging outdoor activity, hiking is a great way to explore the beautiful wilderness of Ruidoso, New Mexico. With its stunning mountain vistas, lush forests, and diverse wildlife, Ruidoso is a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, there are plenty of trails to suit your skill level and interests. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best hiking trails in Ruidoso, as well as tips for staying safe and making the most of your hiking experience.

The Benefits of Hiking

Before we dive into the details of hiking in Ruidoso, let’s take a moment to explore the benefits of this popular outdoor activity. Hiking offers numerous physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved mood and mental clarity
  • Better sleep quality
  • Increased exposure to nature and fresh air

Getting Started: Essential Gear and Safety Tips

Before you hit the trails, it’s important to make sure you have the right gear and know how to stay safe while hiking. Here are some essential items you’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots with good traction
  • Comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing
  • A backpack with plenty of water and snacks
  • Sunscreen and a hat to protect from UV rays
  • Insect repellent and first aid supplies
  • A map or GPS device to help navigate the trails

In addition to having the right gear, it’s important to follow some basic safety tips while hiking. These include:

  • Letting someone know your hiking route and expected return time
  • Staying on designated trails and following all posted signs
  • Watching out for wildlife and giving them plenty of space
  • Avoiding hiking alone, especially in remote areas
  • Being prepared for changing weather conditions, such as sudden rain or high winds

Best Hiking Trails in Ruidoso

Now that you’re prepared and ready to hit the trails, let’s take a look at some of the best hiking spots in Ruidoso:

Grindstone Lake Trail

This scenic 4.5-mile loop trail offers beautiful views of Grindstone Lake and the surrounding mountains. The trail is rated as moderate and features a mix of rocky terrain and gentle slopes. You’ll also have the chance to spot wildlife such as deer, elk, and birds.

Crest Trail

For a more challenging hike, check out the Crest Trail, which runs along the spine of the Sacramento Mountains. This 13-mile trail offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, as well as access to several other trails along the way. Be prepared for steep inclines and high altitude, as the trail reaches an elevation of over 10,000 feet.

Three Rivers Trail

This 5-mile out-and-back trail follows the scenic Three Rivers and offers a relatively easy hike with beautiful views of the river and surrounding forest. Keep an eye out for local wildlife such as beavers and river otters.

Cedar Creek Trail

Located in the Lincoln National Forest, the Cedar Creek Trail is a 6-mile out-and-back trail that features a stunning waterfall and plenty of opportunities for birdwatching. The trail is rated as moderate and offers a mix of rocky terrain and gentle slopes.

Fort Stanton Cave Trail

For a unique hiking experience, check out the Fort Stanton Cave Trail, which offers a guided tour of the largest cave in the Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave System. The trail is rated as moderate and requires a reservation in advance.


Hiking in Ruidoso is a great way to get outdoors and explore the natural beauty of the area. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from in Ruidoso. Just remember to come prepared with the right gear and follow basic safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

So pack your backpack, lace up your hiking boots, and hit the trails in Ruidoso today!


  1. What is the best time of year for hiking in Ruidoso?
  • The best time for hiking in Ruidoso is in the spring and fall, when temperatures are mild and the scenery is at its most beautiful.
  1. Are dogs allowed on hiking trails in Ruidoso?
  • Yes, dogs are allowed on most hiking trails in Ruidoso, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
  1. Do I need to bring my own water when hiking in Ruidoso?
  • Yes, it’s important to bring plenty of water with you when hiking in Ruidoso, as many trails do not have access to drinking water.
  1. Are there any guided hiking tours available in Ruidoso?
  • Yes, there are several guided hiking tours available in Ruidoso, which can be a great way to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
  1. What is the most challenging hiking trail in Ruidoso?
  • The Crest Trail is considered the most challenging hiking trail in Ruidoso, due to its steep inclines and high altitude.

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