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Nambe Lake Trail

HARD 148 reviews
#3 of 85 trails in

Nambe Lake Trail is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Fe, New Mexico that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,978 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

bird watching

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

This is a really nice hike that starts at the Santa Fe Ski Area parking lot. Look for the Windsor Trail sign and there is not a Nambe Trail sign at the start point. The trail starts off with a moderate incline along a well-maintained trail through the woods with Aspen and Pine trees. At the first intersection of another trail, there is a fence that you go through straight ahead to stay on the trail. The trail then starts a long slight decline towards the Nambe Creek. Again, mostly shaded with the same trees and some views of the valley and Mt. Baldy. As you get to the botton and to the creek, there is a sign that states Nambe Lake. Veer off to the right just past the sign and the trail starts uphill. if you go left or straight you will be off the trail. The trail at this point is more difficult to follow so bring AllTrails along. You will be gaining elevation from this point on and it does get steep. At the top is Nambe Lake which is rather small, shallow and greenish, but it is a good workout to get to this point.

hiking
snow
2 days ago

Great trail. Very strenuous uphill climb through the trees, but very enjoyable. Lots of snow—snowshoes were a must today.

snowshoeing
snow
18 days ago

1 month ago

Snowshoed all the way to Nambe Lake. Great fun! Most of the trail is packed hard and easy to snowshoe on. Last ~ 1/2 mile is not - no one had been to the lake it seemed for a few weeks. Some big drifts that are difficult to get your spikes into, especially with this part of the trail being on the steeper side. I blazed a path through the snow so it should be a bit easier for others, at times building steps in the snow so I could move up and forward. Not insanely hard, but definitely strenuous. You will pothole alot, so be careful. Bring lots of calories and water! Also, it’s much colder at the lake than a few hundred feet below it. Bring a puffy jacket. I’m in good shape and round-trip was 4 hrs because of the last half mile and strenuous nature of the last full mile. Enjoy! :)

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful, serene landscape. Definitely worth it!

snowshoeing
1 month ago

My husband and I snowshoed toward Nambe Lake with our dog today Saturday, January 19. We have hiked it in the summer and fall previously but never tried it in the winter. Snowshoes were absolutely essential today. The first portion from the trailhead to the wilderness boundary had about 1-1.5 feet of snow. Snow depth steadily increased for the second portion to the Nambe Lake turnoff, reaching about 2.5 feet by the turnoff. The trail was not well-packed but easy to follow from the trailhead to the Nambe turnoff. However, no one had been past the turnoff in a long time; we could not see any sign of tracks in the snow on the trail toward Nambe, which reached about 4 feet in depth within ~.5 miles of the turnoff. We tried to go on but were post-holing too much to continue, even with snowshoes, so we turned back. It didn't look like any of the other few hikers we saw today were going to make it to the lake, either. We did see a couple groups continue on the Winsor Trail instead of turning off to Nambe, and that trail looked much more manageable. Still a beautiful day, though cold! (18F at the ski parking lot when we started around 9 AM.)

snowshoeing
2 months ago

Snowshoed up December 20th. 1-2 ft of snow, much of the way, except much less near the trailhead, on well packed trails.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail! This is definitely a difficult one with about 2000 feet of elevation gain from the ski basin parking lot to the lake. We had a sunny day with packed snow on the trail, so yaktrax and trekking poles helped a lot. I could see how it would be difficult to follow the creek at other times of year, but the snow makes the trail a little clearer at times. Also my Strava tracked a total of 8 miles from the parking lot and back, so a bit longer than what the maps say.

hiking
4 months ago

A nice long hike that really cranks up the elevation gain right at the end. It was one of the worst marked trails I've been on in a while though. We were never lost really, since you are along the creek the whole way, but many times we weren't sure if we were on the right side of the creek, if we were still on the trail, or how much longer it was to the lake. We saw plenty of other hikers contemplating in the same way. We did ultimately find the lake, which is very nicely situated.

The middle section of the hike through the aspens is just lovely, especially as the fall colors were turning.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful lake hike and the aspens right now can’t be beat!! We’re frequent hikers in Colorado and the end kicked my butt, but well worth it! The first part is just switchbacks through the woods, then you jump right into the aspens for a rather flat section that is STELLAR! Trail splits and you take the trail that goes UP. The last mile and a half you gain the entirety of the elevation (or at least it feels) and the trail can get super unclear at some points, but follow the carens for a path. You take the creek up a majority of the way, and then cross over at a meadow. The last half mile we saw everyone taking a different path, so whatever gets you up there. We were all winded together. Lake is LOVELY, we only had three other people there with us (lots of dogs on the trail). Perfect fall hike, dress warmly though! As always- the earlier the better as the lot was completely full when we got back. 3.5 hours RT.

hiking
5 months ago

Great and challenging hike! Took us 7.2 (we walked around the lake) miles and 3 1/2 hours. Certainly a tough hike but well worth Nambe Lake at the end. Advice: once you veer right at the Nambe Lake sign, follow on the right side of the creek until you reach an open meadow on the right side. Then cross the creek and travel up the left side of the creek until you almost reach the lake. Lots of random trails so, as others have suggested, stay near the creek.
I think the lake is beautiful- I found it strange that other reviews said they were not impressed with the lake.

hiking
5 months ago

This is a really nice hike that starts at the Santa Fe Ski Area parking lot. Look for the Windsor Trail sign and there is not a Nambe Trail sign at the start point. The trail starts off with a moderate incline along a well-maintained trail through the woods with Aspen and Pine trees. At the first intersection of another trail, there is a fence that you go through straight ahead to stay on the trail. The trail then starts a long slight decline towards the Nambe Creek. Again, mostly shaded with the same trees and some views of the valley and Mt. Baldy. As you get to the botton and to the creek, there is a sign that states Nambe Lake. Veer off to the right just past the sign and the trail starts uphill. if you go left or straight you will be off the trail. The trail at this point is more difficult to follow so bring AllTrails along. You will be gaining elevation from this point on and it does get steep. At the top is Nambe Lake which is rather unimpressive, small, shallow and greenish, but it is a good workout to get to this point. We are a mid50's couple in good shape and the hike was a great workout!

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike! Not too difficult; just right on the legs. There are a lot of user-made trails to distract you once you leave Winsor Trail, but keep going up and stay near the creek all the way. There are also some cairns occasionally if you doubt. Took me about 4 hours total. Ran into some cows on the way down.

hiking
6 months ago

Fun hike to a lovely cirque. Made the lake in 1:37. A bit of a slog once you leave the Windsor trail, and the trail can be hard to follow exactly but there are many possible ways to go.

6 months ago

Just a quick note on the prior review. You don’t go up through the Ski area. You park below the ski area in an overflow lot.
You hike up the Windsor trail until the turn off for the lake.
The hike is beautiful and reasonably hard but not really tough. The Lake is a special place. If it’s calm the mountains reflect in it so you can’t tell them apart in your photos.

camping
6 months ago

What a beautiful hike, originally went for an overnight to lake Katherine but decided to do NAMBE instead. He hike down is tough but not terrible. First .5 is uphill then it gets easy until the 3 mike mark. The lake is pristine and chance are you’ll have it to yourself. I camped overnight and fixed up/added to the partial structure near the lake. Breathtaking views and night sky. Took me 3.5 hours each way.

backpacking
6 months ago

Did a 1-night overnighter with my 5 year old daughter. It was great - the last push to the lake is steep and long (esp for little legs!). Very worth the hike.

hiking
6 months ago

What a beautiful destination. The lake and surrounding area is just gorgeous. The views of the trees reflecting off the water was amazing. The trail is a little tricky to follow at times, used the map in this app and it led us right to it. We ended up with a bit over 7 miles out and back.

6 months ago

beautiful trail and lake

hiking
7 months ago

First of all what a Trek!! I got 4.8 miles on my Apple Watch, but I’m pretty sure it was more. If it wasn’t for my husband being there before I think we would have lost the map due to poor cell service. This hike is incredibly difficult at certain points. It’s a straight up incline up the ski basin slopes. We hit almost 12,000 feet in elevation just to give you an idea. You go to the top of the towers where you would normally ski the big tesuque trail from the top. I recommend snacks and extra water in a backpack. It took us 4 hours there and back. And just remember what goes up must came down. The hike down was more awkward on your knees. But overall the view is worth it! All I’m saying is being prepared for a long hike. Enjoy the views!! We saw herd of cattle and lots of deer!!! Enjoy <3

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike. I headed up mid morning and got back early afternoon. More foot traffic as I was heading out. All the up was worth it! The lake and surrounding area was beautiful. Additional notes: ran into a cow herd on the way up. Peaceful forest. Trail is rocky. Download the map to help with the section after the switch in trails; trail was easily lost.

hiking
7 months ago

Very steep in parts, really tests your endurance. The lake at the end is beautiful and well worth the effort.

7 months ago

ahh ok. I am glad to see this trail is rated difficult! I thought I was just in bad shape! seriously this trail definitely has some really steep stretches that makes it quite exhausting but really worth it! beautiful waterfall along the way and the lake is crystal clear! my twelve year old made it too and I am nearly 50 and not in the best shape so it's not that difficult! I also heard a hermit thrush along the way. beautiful bird with a flute voice!! overall a great hike!!

hiking
7 months ago

July 29 2018. Gorgeous day to be hiking considering all the recent heavy rain around Santa Fe. Today clear skies and nothing but beauty every where you look. This hike out and back was right at 7 miles. I too took a few wrong turns and had to back track out. I do agree the trail is a bit hard to follow after the Windsor /Nambe fork. There is a high and a low trail, I suggest following the lower trail near the creek. After crossing the creek continue on - from here the remaining portion of the trail is frickin' hard. Upon arriving at the Lake, all the sweat was more than worth it. The Lake was crystal clear and just sparkled with the sun's reflection. Amazingly beautiful. Enjoy.

7 months ago

One of my fave day hikes

hiking
7 months ago

It was absolutely beautiful but we lost the trail and were wondering around for a while. The lake was amazing and cold !
Hiking took us around 6 hours total including our stop by the lake for 2 hours. We are not expert hikers..

hiking
8 months ago

Pristine wilderness. Makes you proud to be a New Mexican.
Not sure it the trail is really 6.4 miles.
Stick to the left of the Rio Nambe after the Windsor Trail forks.
Took about 5.2 miles to get there and 3.4 miles to return (following the trail to the left of the Rio).
Get an early start, afternoon showers could make for flash flooding at the lake.

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail, beautiful lake at the top. Can have snow until mid-May depending on the year's snowfall.

Trail can be hard to follow as the climb starts after the Winsor Trail split, but stay near the creek and you'll be fine.

9 months ago

Great trail. Short. Beautiful falls.

9 months ago

This a a great hike with lots of up. As folks have noted trail can be hard to follow at times after the turnoff to Nambe Lake trail 400. It took us about 4 hours including about 20 minutes at the lake. There was still ice on the stream which made for some cool pics.

9 months ago

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.

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