Serpent Lake Trail is a 7.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Penasco, New Mexico that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.
Beautiful trail. The meadow and small pond (serpent lake) are well worth the hike which is actually around 8 miles round trip.
Loved this trail! It's around 3.6 miles one way to the lake. You gain around 1500ft from trailhead to the Serpent Lake sign, then drop down quite a bit to go to the lake. The lake area is beautiful! Lots of great camp sites around the trees, between the lake and a meadow. There is a stream you cross coming into the lake area which is the best place to refill on water. The lake water can be used but the stream is much clearer. We didn't hike to Jicarita Peak this time, but will be back soon to do it as a day hike.
The hike seemed tough but mostly from the altitude, our cell phone app listed the beginning altitude at 10,400'. The trail was difficult, as stated in previous reviews, heavy trail use by horses have made the trail rocky and muddy in places but easy to follow. Once up to the lake and you get a glimpse of the surrounding landscape you forget about the hike up, it is beautiful. A guide book we used for this hike listed the distance to the lake at 3.3 miles one way which I tend to believe. You should hike the trail past the Serpent Lake turn off to the ridge, it is not that far and has a spectacular view. Excellent sites around the lake for camping.
We did this trail in August of 2015. Got to the trailhead from Texas at about midnight or so and slept in the truck. Challenging hike especially loaded down with gear. Absolutely beautiful aside from the erosion on the trail due to heavy horse use. We lucked out and went on a weekend that the weather was less than ideal for day hikers. We packed out about 10 lbs of trash. 3 liter soda bottles, full cans of food that had sat for awhile and assorted trash.
We plan on going back this summer a few times and maybe checking out some other spots in the area too.
This lake seems to be a favorite spot for many, and can get crowded sometimes on weekends. Angostura trail 493 accesses the Alamitos Trailhead off of Forest Road 89 and is well marked all the way to Serpent Lake.
I called the Carson National Forest Ranger Station for a hearty hike for a girl alone with no gear. The incline was tough, but worth the effort. The sign pointing down to Serpent Lake is only visible coming down the trail, so be on the lookout. The descent down to the lake isn't technical, but challenging. I was the only person there and saw tons of wildlife. I was even spied on by a curious Marmot.
The trail is poorly marked and there were plenty of downed trees. I followed hoof prints in the snow on the way up and got lost on deer trails on the way back. Luckily, I followed the river and got back on trail just before I started to seriously worry. I don't think that would be a problem deep in the season, but this is not a hike I would do alone again.