dogs on leash
Take wilderness gate or Dorothy Stuart trailhead to avoid longer walk from St. John's parking lot. Fun to take steeper route up on this moderate and rewarding climb. Head over to mt picacho and down past #35 on dale ball trails to go over castle rock and loop back down. Take a pic of trail map at trail head to minimize getting misdirected. Hard to get too lost with easily sited mt tops. Lots of scrub pine and great views. Better to start earlier in day to get trailhead parking and cooler temps. Better to be in fair shape to fully enjoy challenging aspects of climb.
My wife and I found this trail looking for the "Aspen Vista trail" (which I'm not sure exists). This trail starts in the big parking lot right near mile marker 14 (between 13 and 14). The actual trail start is just to the left and past the gate which leads most people down a 'trail' that is actually a park road.
It starts steep (for us - who are not traditional hikers) but gets easier for most of it until you get to the last 100-200 yds. from the peak of the mountain. In between are forests of Aspens and a beautiful meadow with a great view of Santa Fe. Once at the top, you arrive at the chair lift for the ski area. My Apple watch/phone clocked it at a little more than a mile up and another back.
We enjoyed it very much.
This hike from St. John's College parking lot is 7.4 miles not the 6 miles listed. First 2/3 of hike is climbing interspersed with easy sections. Last 1/3 is more difficult and trail becomes more rocky & challenging. Definitely wear some good hiking shoes or boots. Views at top overlook Santa Fe and are fantastic. Was extremely windy at the top on day I was there which made it feel much colder than temp would indicate. Enjoyable hike if you are in good shape as it was more challenging than I expected.
I hiked this last weekend. the first I have hiked in the Pecos and I was left speechless and breathless.
its moderate difficulty and long if just going in and back out. so worth it though. amazing views. aspens. creek. lakes. if you have not hiked this trail...fix that and soon!
Did the lake drain away into some unforclosed sink each time I approached? Through the aspen did it flow settling beyond my wary view? Lurking uphill out of sight as I climbed the fireroad from which it fled? Because I should have studied the map more attentively before ascending to this liquid phantom. I could not find its mystical trace. Though did not find the search without its pleasures. Into the aspens out of the crowd where is found awe...
This is a really cool hike if you want to see the aspens changing colors in late Sept. We modified the hike to connect with the aspen vista trail (hiking/mtb trail) which is about an 8 mile loop. From the big parking lot, you will see a gate for the trailhead. When you go thru the gate take an immediate left and stay along the gate. You will immediately be climbing so warm up/stretch before you start this hike. The hike is pretty steep most of the way, but really beautiful and you will have several clearings to take in the views. Eventually you will get to the top of the ski lift at mile 1.5. Just continue past the lift and stay on the trail - around mile 1.8 you will see a trail that goes right/up - it was marked with a cairn - from there its pretty much straight up towards the communications towers. At mile 2.35 you will hit a road. If you want to see the lake, keep going uphill. If you want to take the loop back down, go right and just follow the road. Lots of MTBers on the trail. The first part of this loop back down is just an easy downhill, okay views, but once you get down towards the bottom it just gets more and more beautiful. You will have great views of aspen trees, streams, etc. Once you get back to the car its an 8 mile hike. Really awesome hike, especially in late September when the leaves are changing!! Enjoy!