nature trips



wild flowers


dog friendly



trail running


dogs on leash



This wilderness area in the Santa Fe national forest has a great variety of high peaks and ridges, pocketed lakes, and cascading creeks. Access points on all sides provide ample recreation opportunities, while the large size of the area makes solitude possible.

Epic! like one of the other post side two biodiversity between the forks is just amazing! Went for 3 Days 2 nights, 1st night camp at no fish Lake, on the west fork. the next day bagged North Truchas Peak. Then walked the skyline divide trail. Seen Bristlecone Pine on the edge of Chimayosos peak. Lots of big horn sheep. Came down the middle fork. Definitely going back next summer.

first day of winter, Oct 14 big blizzard... epic hike, experienced folks only

1 month ago

It's nice forest, and OK views. But because of the proximity to town and roads, there's road noise for at least 2/3 of the hike. We went clockwise on the loop, which made this the easy side of a moderate hike. We were glad we did, because the steeper side is in direct sun, with no shade. I don't think I'd do this hike again, there are too many trails to explore!

2 months ago

Be prepared for this trail. It is not moderate, it is hard for a 50-years old person who does not hike much but pretty fit. There are couple of suggestions: get acclimatized before you go; be prepared for long steep hike. There were hikers on Windsor trail up to Skyline trail, but we have not seen anybody from Baldy turnoff to lake Katherine and back (we used Skyline trail that goes east and meets Windsor trail to come back) the other day. So, be prepared if you get lost. We camped before we reached the lake and hike to the lake in the morning. On the way back, "east" Skyline trail from Katherine lake to Windsor Trail conjunction is not properly marked. There is a trail there, it is not far from Skyline trail and comes to that junction, so, do not worry if your GPS will show that you are off Skyline trail on your way back. Take a piece of paper and a pen to leave your names at the trail head, just in case you get lost and rangers look for you. The distance is not 13 miles, it is over 15 miles. It took us about 8 hours to get to camping before we reached the lake, we stopped three times for 30 min, and many times to catch our breath. No phone coverage.

A great backpacking/hiking destination. The fall foliage here is amazing. There are some great camping spots about 4 mi in on the west fork trail. Plenty of water there and on the way up. Check out the beaver dam in the area and hike to Chimayosos Peak, the falls or one of the lakes if your up to a strenuous day hike. I’ve backpacked here several times and will definitely be back.

Great hike right outside of Taos! We had limited time in town, so we camped near the trail and it’s right as you enter the forest. Not super crowded, but lots of locals use it as their morning workout. If you take the “peak” trail, it’s more direct up hill but quicker. The loop, this map, is the trail that bears LEFT at the first fork in the road, about .75 miles into the hike. Adds .8 miles but more gradual incline and shaded areas on the way up. Views of Taos and the mountains are STELLAR and we loved the different terrain you encounter.

2 months ago

Follow the Trampas Lakes Trail to the clearly marked fork. The hike to this little lake added an extra mile and a half but is worth it. We were there three weeks ago in mid-September and it was beautiful. Our little group was completely alone. No wildlife sightings aside from birds and squirrels. No rain. The hike is long and strenuous but no part was particularly difficult. We hiked in, (took about 4 hours) camped for the night and then hiked out (3 hours). Just watch out for vengeful vermin. We encountered a pine cone throwing squirrel. His aim was amazing! ha ha ha

I second Stephen's comment. The direct descent from Baldy to the lake is possible and I did it today, but it is about a 45 degree pitch for almost the entire 1000' drop with a few really tricky spots. Based on looking back up from the lake, I think a better route is to start from the middle chute and then traverse to the north about half way down but it's hard to be sure. Be prepared to bail out and climb back up regardless of which route you take. Very difficult and dangerous.

Made an overnight loop going past Lake Katherine to Spirit Lake then merged back with the main trail. Forested section to Spirit Lake was boring, but not difficult at all. Going up Santa Fe Baldy is worth it.

Beautiful trail with wildflowers and river. The caves are about 3 miles in on the left, easy to miss if you aren’t looking for them.

Just finished this solo. 4 day 3 night. Amazing trail. Well marked with minimal deadfall. I did counterclockwise up Beaty’s to Skyline then West to Jack’s creek South. Didn’t summit anything as the weather was schizophrenic. Rained and hailed 80% of the time, so, plenty of water. Woke to ice covered everything on day 3. Lots of thunder and lightning shows. Had a coyote play hide and seek for a couple of miles on day one.
Will return.

3 months ago

One of my favorite hikes! This was my second time hiking this trail, its such a beautiful hike. There are vault toilets at the trailhead FYI.

Beautiful Hike! Very steep. This is on the hard side of moderate, so make sure you're mentally prepared for it. Very worth the effort. Lake Katherine has amazing camp sites and a gorgeous view. We got somewhat lost towards the end, but were able to find our way eventually. Make sure to follow the piles of rocks laid out, as the trail isn't mark well beyond that. Very active trail, with tons of experienced hikers. If you get lost you'll always have someone to help!

Happy trailing!

3 months ago

We camped in one of the sites with a shelter at the trail head and found this trail. It was an easy hike that followed the stream. We missed the caves on our way in but found them on the way out... they are just a little bit after the creek crossing. One perk of this trail that might be worth looking into is the connector trails it meets. It seems you can get to other trails that would make for a good loop for a decent backpacking trip throughout the Pecks!

3 months ago

My husband and I hiked this on Sunday 8/19 with our dog. The Winsor Trail to Spirit Lake is very well-maintained and easy to follow. Spirit Lake is smaller than nearby Lake Katherine but still nice. We didn't see anyone else going to Spirit Lake. (Most were going to Nambe Lake, and the few that weren't went to Katherine.) We didn't see anyone else after the Katherine turnoff. We did see a small herd of cattle near that junction both times. Lots of water flowing in several spots for our dog. We ended up making a loop and continuing on to Lake Katherine via the Winsor Trail to the Skyline Trail; that portion of trail from Spirit to Katherine was difficult to follow with many downed trees--just an FYI for anyone planning to hike that route.

3 months ago

My daughter and I just backpacked out from Pecos Falls (Pecos Trail) up Gascon and down Hamilton Mesa to Iron Gate (campground and trail head). I would have to agree with Naomi Cicada that it was a terrific experience and hike. Gascon is a short but steep trail with many fallen tree obstacles, but once on Hamilton Mesa trail, the views are wonderful! Well worth the effort.

Beautiful hike! Steep and a little rocky toward the top and the switchbacks going down from Baldy to Katherine are very narrow. For someone afraid of heights (me) it seems scary at first but is manageable and the views out are incredible. We backpacked out to Katerine, camped over night, and hiked out on Sunday. The lake was busy but everyone was spread out enough that you didn't notice. We did the hike in in about 4 hours and out in 3 with little or no stopping. Definitely recommend!

on Jicarita Peak

4 months ago

My husband and I hiked Serpent Lake and Jicarita Peak on Saturday 7/28 with our dog. From 518, take FR 161. There is a large parking area at the end of the road. The road is very rough in spots; I wouldn't want to drive anything without a decent amount of ground clearance on it.

The first part of the trail was very muddy when we hiked it due to monsoons. There is also a lot of horse poop. It is well traveled and easy to follow most of the way, though rocky. The only place we found the trail a bit difficult to follow in spots was across the saddle, but just keep heading toward Jicarita. The views of the Truchas and looking down on Serpent Lake are great.

We saw a large herd of pronghorns (I think?) on the ridge. They were several hundred feet away and hardly seemed to notice us on the way up, but then another group of hikers let their three dogs chase them. The herd had come up to the trail by the time we came back down, so we went off trail to give them a wide berth.

We ended up with just over 12 miles roundtrip with Serpent Lake and Jicarita Peak. This is a nice hike to get away from crowds; we only saw a few other groups all day.

We took our dog and slept at Lake Katherine. Started out on the Windsor Trail and then took 254 past Spirit Lake and up to Lake Katherine. The trail from SL to LK was a little tricky to find (quick left after the stream and straight up). This section was much less maintained than the rest of the trail but we were still able to navigate it. LK is very pretty and the trail down (251) was an easy downhill. We recommend!

This is a wonderful hike! It’s actually 15.2 miles, not 13.1, so plan on taking the entire day.

Beautiful hike! We did it round trip in one day via the skyline route. This was a hard route, straight up w/lots of rock climbing and the trail was hard to find. But using the app helped us a lot. My Apple Watch recorded the distance at 17 round trip. The lake was so amazing and worth it!

4 months ago

Great hike. In from Ohio and was just the right distance. We did the loop trail.

4 months ago

We have a family house in Taos, and do hikes here every time we go. It’s great by itself, I only give it 3 stars because I know what the larger Sangre De Cristos hold just 45 minutes away. Don’t let that deter you from this hike though. Good little starter. Don’t go too late in the day during rainy season of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

Trails are open again!

I got into town as the clouds were ready to burst. I waited out the storm but took off two hours before sunset. The loop took me 2:20 hours. I did it clockwise. Great vistas all around. The rock slab chairs have been restored at the peak. My dogs were able to drink water from a few shallow pools in the rocks along the way. The trailhead parking lot was still crowded when I returned to my truck.

Great trail. The biodiversity between the West fork and the East fork are completely different. I did the loop backwards starting with the West fork. When you get to the divide, hike down to Truchas lake. Bring binoculars, big horns are everywhere up thier. Only saw 4 other people the six days I took to complete. The views and vistas from the divide are excellent. Seen a lot of elk up there as well. Definitely recommend to those with cardio as you will definitely need it!

We did this trail 05/18/18 to 05/21/18 and it was amazing. It is a difficult trail and steep and narrow at some points with it widening and leveling out in spots. Not a lot of water a long the trails but when you get closer to the lakes there are small streams. Camping near Stewart lake was very easy to find. Lake Katherine not so much. There were maybe a couple spots that would have worked but we didn't try. We went back to Stewart lake to camp because it was so nice down there. There was still some snow on the trail to Lake Katherine but nothing that regular shoes couldn't handle. Beautiful views and trails. If you plan to hang a bear bag be prepared to look for quite awhile for a tree to hang it from. The pine and aspen trees do not provide a lot of branches to hang from. Also there is no free camping at the trail heads. The gps will take you to Cowles parking lot but to get to trail 254 you have to keep going to another parking lot which is like a half a mile away. Cowles will get you to 271 trailhead. A lot of downed trees right now but easy to get around most of them.

The wind calls through the Iron Gate, so I pass into the trees over the rocks upon the dirt. Who would have thought to see a wooden gate and beyond no small view. Leaving chain and latch, iris and aspen then grass. Golden keys the wind does play out unto the paramount. It upon them a sound only my eyes can hear and I am swept upon the vista. I stroll awhile...
Down I lay below the wind in the grass without my worries. I close my eyes to hear and hear a coming sleep, upon the grass I do...
I awake feeling new and back through the iron gate I go. Then home...

Totally worth the hike. The first mile is rough but not too bad after that.

Great hike or a backpacking trip! No snow and some decent wind at the top of the Mount Baldy turn off

Load More