“One of Northside's gems, this is a fast and smooth trail on Bull of the Woods Mountain's north slope
— J. Bella
Northside at Taos Ski Valley is a trail system on Bull of the Woods and Frazer mountains, privately owned, and maintained by a small group of avid bikers and other volunteers. Permits cost $10 per day or $50 seasonally, and can be bought at a kiosk 1/4 mile above the trailhead and at some local shops; more information can be found here
Named for the bright copper-based mineral found in abundance around the old mines at the top of Bull of the Woods Mountain, this trail follows an old mining road grade into the dense conifer forests on the mountain's north side.
From the top, this is a fast and smooth descent, contouring above steep slopes as it drops towards the Middle Fork Trail/Forest Road 487
trailhead. Before leading to a series of mellow rolling slopes down the north side of the mountain, the trail presents a couple of tight turns to watch for before dropping out onto Bull of the Woods trail.
To ride this trail as part of a loop, climb the Bull of the Woods Trail (which may require a bit of hiking near the top), turn left at the saddle, then right where the trail splits and heads the short distance to the mountain's summit.
Climbing Malachite Trail avoids the heavily used Bull of the Woods Trail, and is an easier yet mildly aggressive climb to the saddle below Frazer Mountain. Especially on busy weekend days, this is a great alternative.
About 100 feet above the bottom there is steep and short spur on the right called Sheep Herder Trail. After riding Malachite, continue down Bull of the Woods Trail to ride the Steam Engine-Sawmill-Gold Camp route, or ride up a bit to Crossover Trail to access the west side trails like Overlook and Late Afternoon.
This trail is pretty smooth, however, due to the steep slopes near the top, loose rocks occasionally roll down onto the trail after heavy rains, so it's always good to ride up and check out conditions before descending.