Explore the most popular lake trails in Pecos Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Definitely worth the miles for some great views along the way and especially at the top. The elevation got us a little as we’re used to life at 500’. Had to stop at the Baldy Santa Fe turn off as there was still a heavy coating of snow heading to Lake Katherine.

6 months ago

Great trail, but not well marked. Plenty of water. Beautiful.

Amazing hike to Lake Katherine camped at elv. 11,776 ft.: seven other brave enthusiast braved the heavy rain/snow and lodged in the mystic beauty on slopes of Santa Fe Baldy...

8 months ago

Incredible lake. Hiked first to Santa Fe Baldy and then on to Lake Katherine with my husband and dog yesterday. 16.6 total miles roundtrip in 8.5 hours. Lake Katherine is much larger than nearby Nambe and Spirit Lakes. The water is so clear! Only one other group there while were there. Trail is fairly easy to follow. No place to camp nearby (and don't camp within 200 feet of the lake!), but lots of nice rocks to eat lunch. Plenty of parking at the Ski Basin parking lot across the road from the trailhead. For those with dogs, there were several stream crossings that were running well for our dog to drink from. Highly recommend!

Beautiful high mountain lake. Tae a mask, as the National Forest signs do not identify destinations (lie Baldy or Lake Katherine. The signs only list the trail numbers. My Apple Watch showed a total distance of 15.25 miles, although I took a couple short detours. The first 0.75 miles is reasonably steep, then it levels out for about 4 miles. You hike up to the saddle below Baldy, go over the saddle and down several switchbacks to the final stretch into Lake Katherine. Watch for the rock piles, as the trail sometimes becomes indistinct. The lake is beautiful and in a gorgeous setting. I did this as a day hike in approximately eight hours.

Tough, but awesome trail. Can't wait to go again!

My wife and I just backpacked for a couple day at lake Katherine for the first time. We really enjoyed ourselves but this was also the hardest trail we have ever backpacked. Make sure you give yourself lots of extra time, it took us about 7-8 hours. My wife also took a small fall on the loose rocks. That being said the views were amazing and we will definitely be back!!!

Decent hike in, nothing too crazy. Went during the week and only a couple other people camping there. Heard it can get busy on the weekends! Loads of marmots though!

excellent hike, great scenery although quite strenuous...take mosquito repellent...

Went there 3/13-15 and didn't need any snow shoes or traction aides. There was only one part of the skyline trail right after the fork to go up to Baldy which required some minor route finding to navigate around the snow. Within the next week or so that section should melt out.

Tried to make it to the lake last weekend​, but was not able to due to the snow. I honestly wasn't expecting that much snow this late into the year. The hike was still awesome with lots of streams for water and there is plenty of meadows to set up camp at a lower elevation, but don't expect to make it to Lake Katherine without snow shoes this time of year.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Do not take this trail early in the year. I recently attempted the hike into the lake, and there was far too much snow. The trail seems really nice and fairly easy, but it's near impassable in the snow. I'd recommend waiting until June or later.

trail running
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

By far my favorite hike/trail run in the Santa Fe area!! I hiked Baldy and then trekked down to Lake Katherine. Some steep exposed areas but overall fairly moderate. Can't wait to try it in the winter.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This is a beautiful train with some tricky and steep parts, but overall, not that bad. The lake is incredible, surrounded by rocky peaks. We did a three day backpacking trip and stopping sometimes to do some rock climbing and rappelling.

gorgeous. no other words. absolutely beautiful!
start early :)

It was a great trail. Slightly above my skill level, but great scenery.

I feel like it was longer than 6.6 miles one way. I could be wrong but my Fitbit tracked it at over 11 miles just on the journey to the lake.

Only downside other than it being a longer trail than expected was the lack of firewood when getting to Lake Katherine. There were 4 other groups of campers at the lake when we went and everyone was having a hard time finding any wood for fires. Definitely being a burner if you intend on doing some cooking.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Beautiful hike. It was a bit challenging, but enjoyed it thoroughly.

Monday, March 21, 2016

This is a review for those looking at a spring hike/backpack. We set out to backpack the loop on 3/19, starting with 254, and ending with 271. Trail 254 is 100% impassable if you don't have snowshoes (3-5 foot snowdrifts). Our group did not have them, and we were put into a survival situation. 271 however is fantastic, being on the sunny side of the mountain. With that said, you will lose trail 271 about 3/4 way from Stewart lake when you encounter the bad snow. There are no indicators, or clear paths. Just go due NW from the sign though if you are brave enough. Trail 271 took us 2hrs 45min to descend from Stewart. We foolishly pushed through 254 up to Stewart and it took us 8 hours. The lake was frozen over, but the views were incredible none the less. The views from 271 were also incredible on many areas and made 254 a very unnecessary experience. Lake Katherine is 2.75 miles past Stewart. That was our goal, we did not make it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hiked to Lake Katherine at the beginning of October. We made a loop by going up the Windsor Ridge Trail past Stewart Lake (our bail-out option around mile 5), south on the Skyline Trail to the Windsor Trail up to Katherine. The last 1.5 miles are a bit of a climb, and remember that you're SE of the peaks so light starts to disappear about an hour before sunset. We headed down the Windsor Trail the next morning, which is about a 9 miles, or 1 mile more than up.

Lake Katherine is beautiful save for all of the guerrilla fire pits and garbage previous people have left in said fire pits around the lake. It's pretty well marked (and a common thing) to not camp or have a fire within 200 ft of the lake, but some people don't seem to "get it". I guess they can't read or something. There are plenty of campsites outside 200ft of the lake. The garbage they've left behind in their fire pits doesn't always stay there. It's a bit sad to see the area used up to that extent.

Aside from that, the lake and basin are gorgeous. It was a bit windy (an understatement) which made it cold but not unbearable if you've packed properly.

Monday, September 07, 2015

This is the first trail that I have ever completed and I had a blast. I went in a group of 3 and we were very inexperienced but still able to complete the trail in a decent time. It does get a little chilly at night during this time of year but my sleeping bag kept me warm and we were able to make a campfire pretty easily. Lake Katherine was pretty crowded when we went but I'm assuming that is because we went during labor day weekend.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

This is a beautiful lake sitting right underneath Baldy Mountain. Its a 4 star because it is can be crowded at times

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lake Katherine is a beautiful spot in Mew Mexico, but no longer a destination, in my opinion. The governmental agency that is in charge of the Pecos Wilderness has decided that all lakes in the "WIlderness" are off limits to camping. They don't officially say no camping, but they have placed a 200 foot moratorium around all the lakes designated as a no camping zone. Any area 200 feet away from Lake Katherine is unsuitable for camping (too rocky, too steep). So effectively, no camping at Lake Katherine anymore. Also no camping at Beatty's Cabin or Pecos Falls. We camped at the only place along the lake (08/2015) about 75 feet from the edge of the lake (already an obvious established camp site) and was accosted by a "volunteer forest ranger" who never introduced himself to us personally or identified himself to us. ( We over heard him tell another hiker from New Hampshire that was what he was.) He said "You know you are camping illegally, but I guess you you don't give a shit" . He then stomped off and said he was going to "call it in". Twenty minutes later he re-entered our camp site and started throwing rotten wood that was charred from previous campers' camp fires into Lake Katherine. I suppose he thought it was our fire wood and by making it wet, we couldn't use it to make a fire. We thought....knock yourself out chump. Not our fire wood. We were using butane stoves. He then left after taking a photograph of our tents. (our tents are light green and very inobtrusive to the environment). Anyway, our encounter with that jackass completely soured our trip and I would not recommend backpacking into the Pecos Wilderness as any "destination" is off limits. If you want to day hike a round trip of 17 miles to take a picture of the lake and eat a sandwich........enjoy. The whole way back to our vehicle, we kept thinking we might be stopped by a Forest Service swat team. I won't be going back!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

This trip was difficult as it was my first backpacking trip. Aside from the hike, the view at Lake Katherine was amazing and beautiful and worth every step it took it get there. I would recommend this hike to anyone who has extra time to spend either the day before or the day after getting to Lake Katherine. The water is super clear and peaceful to look at. I would say if you only have the day to spend there, pack a nice lunch and take advantage of the views all around.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beautiful hike. Packed in on a Saturday morning, took our time & soaked in the amazing views and then camped at Katherine...it's about 8.5 mi to Katherine. If Baldy is in your sites, we did it on the way out and hid our packs... It's only 1.1 mi off the Katherine trail once you hit the peak of 251, but it's a steep vertical mile.
No luck on fish (flyfishing) but definitely saw some jump in the late afternoon- so they exist. Amazing all around!

Monday, October 14, 2013

I have been here many times in the winter, The snow gets deep but the beauty is well worth it.
CAUTION it gets cold at night not for beginners in the winter!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sorry forgot to post to
Previous post..7.2 miles one way! Mostly uphill to Lake Katherine easy hike back.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Started at Ski Santa Fe on 21 July 2012. Starting point was approx 10,300ft to destination 11,700approx. to lake Katherine. This route is via baldy so it's pretty nice views. Trail was well marked and many hikers on the trail. I will say this is a moderate hike with a overnight pack. Our group pack's weight ranged from 35-60lbs for two night stay. Weather was perfect for a light sleeping bag. Plenty of streams for hydration along the way. Bring a pole fishing was great but do bring a moth type lure they are hard to catch and a camera for awesome pictures. I recorded my route with my garmin so unfortunately I didn't have this app. But if you want more info it's online under lake Katherine. Have a great hike!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Beautiful vista of the lake ... once the morning fog lifted

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hiked this trail years ago when I lived in Santa Fe. It was in September and a full moon to boot! It's an All Day hike, so plan for it. Park at the Santa Fe Ski area, take Windsor Trail (R) up. You'll Ascend up into the Pecos Wilderness. Just follow the trail signs (well marked) and take a "map". There are some nice creeks along the way to break for snacks or lunch with some awesome views. Caution: At one point the trail forks... Signs were posted... Spirit lake (R) Lake Katherine (L). Just make sure you're headed to the correct lake. The trail will fork again and you can head up to Baldy. If you choose to head to Baldy you can look down at Lake Katherine from the top. Otherwise, the trail dead-ends at the lake, which is amazing and pristine. A great place to break and enjoy nature. Our "guide" noted there is a scree trail that will lead you up to Baldy. Yes there is, but my advice is unless you are super fit, don't challenge it. Once you start up you are commited. The thought of climbing down seemed (to me) more fearful than the climb up. It took us almost an hour and 1/2 to climb 700 feet. It was a very difficult climb... the view was amazing! For those interested, the "Scree Trail" is on the back side of the lake. Just climb straight up! Once your at the top traverse over to Baldy and pick up the trail. Otherwise you just follow the trail out the same way you came in. If you enjoy hiking and you're in the Santa Fe area it's a must do.
Remember: You're in the mountains ... dress accordingly and be prepared.
Choosing to climb the scree trail added time and increased the difficulty of our hike. Without that I would say the difficulty is moderate.

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