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

Hiked on 5/21, trail is clear of snow but as others have said the trail is hard to follow at points with numerous spur trails leading seemingly nowhere. Once you turn off trail 254, just make sure to keep hugging the creek on either side, and the trail will come back into focus. Otherwise, pleasant hike with some beautiful meadows en route to an awesome payoff. The lake is framed by a giant granite bowl and is a perfect place for a lunch. Trailhead is over 9000 feet and they trail climbs another 2000 so, even after three days in and around Santa Fe, we still had to take the big climb slowly. The air up there is thin.

We got hailed on during our hike down, which is way better than being rained on because my shoes stayed dry.

For a good challenge I definitely recommend this hike. We made it past the treeline but not all the way to Lake Peak (didn't think our skills were up to par) Past the treeline I recommend a wind breaker or light jacket as it did get chilly. The views are amazing and the trail was not too hard to follow. Some small patches of snow and ice in the shade but none on the trail. My partner and I are in our early 30s and in somewhat good shape. The incline is pretty consistent and rocky at times but it is so worth it. I recommend doing the Nambe Lake trail first like we did (not in the same day) and then doing this one where you get an amazing view of the lake from above.

Tough, but so beautiful! Nice to see so much green and so much water in this state.

We love this trek and typically take it as the first portion of a trek to Truchas peaks.

Beautiful hike. We went at the end of April. A lot of snow and ice near the top. It even started snowing very heavily for about 15 minutes. The trail is hard to follow at times. Always find the river! If you stay with it you will be fine. The lake is beautiful and worth the work. Beginning and end are fairly steep. Don’t give up!

The trail is clear of snow, hard to follow at times because there are many off-shoots. Alltrails app was intermittent with Verizon service so I was able to use it with some success to get to the lake.

Awesome trail ! Just hiked this with my husband today (mid may). A little snow but nothing we couldn't do in waterproof hiking boots ! It was steep at the beginning and at the end, relatively flat for the mid mile and a half. Took us about 4.5 hours including sitting and having lunch at the lake, and getting lost ! It wasn't well marked but following the map on all trails and talking to a few other hikers we figured it out. Well worth the time ! Start at Winsor trail sign follow 254 (other side of Parking lot - a little further down from the ski basin)

on Deception Peak

hiking
11 days ago

May 2018. This year certainly has been one filled with false pretenses. Things, people, places, aren't always what or who they seem to be. Today Deception Peak was a last minute decision (thought I was going for a long bike ride). I thought if I make it to the top, I'll do my little ceremonial dance, thank the universe that I'm healthy enough to be up here and say "good riddens" to ALL the deception vibrating around me this year. Deception Peak here I am....I need a word with you.
Follow the trail from the start of Winsor at the SF Ski basin. Once you get to the gate, it's not marked but do take the trail to the right to the Pecos Widerness. The trail will run adjecent to the fence line for some distance. There is lots of rock a tree roots so watch your step. About half the way up, the trail does become harder to locate but follow your GPS and you should be just fine. The trail is mostly shaded- a light jacket is recommended. It does get windy at the top once you come out of the tree line.
Okay, false summit... but that's the whole point right - why else be here if I wasn't absolutely enjoying myself. I'm here.. guess I'll head over to Lake Peak and check that out too. Just about made it to Lake Peak but the trail that runs on the back side of Deception Peak was a bit too unsafe for me or I missed the safer trail.
Anyway, I did my dance, performed a couple of Qi Gong poses, tossed my resentment into the wind, and headed back.

backpacking
18 days ago

The lake area was totally free of snow this past weekend. The hike length in was just right for my seven-year-old daughter. (She was beginning to complain in the last mile before we got there, but she still had the energy to explore the lake.) We spent the night and headed back the next morning. Note that signs along the trail do not direct you to Stewart lake. Instead they tell you the trail name and/or the trail number. If you know the trail numbers to get to Stewart Lake from the Cowles parking lot (Trail #271 and #251), you should be able to find your way. Also, you come to a small pond on trail #251 right before you reach Stewart lake. You need to go another, say, 0.25 miles to reach Stewart Lake.

hiking
23 days ago

Very nice hike. Only took about 3.5 hours moving time with another hour devoted to taking photos. Views from the top were incredible. A little ice and snow still on the trail, post holed a few times.

Hiked this trail last week. It is a beautiful hike but still pretty icy in a few spots. The lake is also still frozen but that was probably my favorite part. I highly recommend it!

on Nambe Lake Trail

26 days ago

A nice trail to do but at this point it’s still very icy. Proper equipment is a must. The trail itself is also not very well marked.

hiking
26 days ago

Perfect weather for a perfect hike!

hiking
26 days ago

This was such a fun hike! Was sad that I didn’t get past the rock wall but once I found the trail around it it was like a blizzard at the top. I highly recommend taking poles as the second half before you reach the tree line is pretty snowy. I post holed several times so watch your step. The views were spectacular at the top. Can’t wait to do this one again. Oh and careful next to that barbed wire fence if the trail is icy. One slip and ouchie!

Lake wasn’t much to see, but the hike up was beautiful and exhilarating.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is so beautiful! It’s pretty easy going with the steepest inclines at the start and at the end. If you go this weekend I would recommend micro spikes as the second half is pretty icy. The lake is still frozen but so beautiful. Maybe my favorite hike in NM so far

A beautiful mosey! Very easy hiking and beautiful flora during the warmer months. We were surprised there were no mosquitoes. If you are going counter-clockwise from the TH, it can be confusing getting back to the TH/parking on the last 1/4 mile or so. The trail gets scattered into lots of social trails. It looks like lately, they have put a better effort into marking the trail better, but it still could use some help. Great for kids!

backpacking
1 month ago

trail condition is good in early April.

hiking
2 months ago

completed the trail in late March. Very slippy at the beginning due to the ice. The snow is very deep at several sections near the lake. Proper equipment (gaiters and waterproof hiking boots) is recommended at this time of year . I won't rate it hard in the warmer seasons when there is no snow. Approximate 6 hours for the in-and-out hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Just did this trail today (February), and there was a ton of snow. Unfortunately we didn’t make it all the way to the lake since we weren’t in the proper gear (snow shoes and trekking poles). We got as far as we could and then the trail got too steep and the snow got too deep. I will definitely be coming back in the spring/summer!!

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked the Nambe Trail in June 2017 with 6 adults, 5 teens and an Australian Shepherd. It was one of our favorite hikes ever. A lot of the trail in the last mile or so is not well marked and hard to follow but we read enough online ahead of time to be able to find the lake at the end. Highly recommend to seasoned hikers.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. Starts on the same trail as Nambe Lake/ Baldy, but turn right when you get to the fence marking the Pecos Wilderness. Follow the fence until you can't anymore (at a beautiful overlook), then turn right again and head up the mountain. The trail is a little hard to follow, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. The views from the top are incredible. We hiked this last September, and had great weather, though it was very windy and cold above the tree line - make sure to bring layers!

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this last September, which was the perfect time to go with the aspens starting to turn. First and last parts of the trail are steep but not bad, and the middle is flat, so I would rate this as moderate instead of hard. The last section isn't well marked, but keep heading upwards and you'll find the lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Did this trail 3 days ago. The snow near the ascent to get to the peak was too high; no one had broken the snow yet and snow shoes were required to go further. Had a lot of fun on the trail. Still a great hike.

backpacking
4 months ago

This trail was great! The start of the trail (at Windsor trail head) was a steep climb getting you ready for what was in store when you got to the last 1 - 3/4 mile. As previously stated in the other reviews, the last bit of the hike wasn’t well marked, but through the ice we were able to navigate the correct path, leading to breathtaking views. We were able to stand on the frozen lake. Hiking the trail in December definitely added difficulty with the steep slippery climbs. Definitely wanting to hike this again in the summer!!! Must do!

hiking
4 months ago

Tough trail but well worth your trouble!

backpacking
4 months ago

Super fun and the dogs loved swimming in the lake while we ate lunch!

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