Sheepshead Peak and Trampas Lakes Trail

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Carson National Forest

Sheepshead Peak and Trampas Lakes Trail is a 13.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Chimayo, New Mexico that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 13.4 miles Elevation Gain: 3,730 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

The road leading to the trailhead may be difficult for 2WD vehicles.

backpacking
blowdown
snow
8 days ago

This is a great trail for either one day or multi day hiking. The road up to it is a little bumpy and takes caution but easily passable. The trail itself has some trees blowdown on it but not blocking the trail entirely. The trail is also longer than it says, I stopped half a mile from the lake due to snow and still it was a 12.3 mile trip.

hiking
13 days ago

It’s a beautiful hike near running water. The road to the trailhead for 4 or so miles is REALLY bad. Do not take a car or just be prepared to park and walk.

hiking
scramble
7 months ago

Hiked this trail and summited the peak. We took the wrong approach to summit but it ended up okay. It was super beautiful! We used the address provided on AllTrails, and the road was rough for about half and hour. I drove my CRV and bottomed out a few times.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike up to the lakes on Sept 14. Trail is in excellent condition. Our group hiked up in about 3 hours, camped overnight, came down the next morning at a slightly faster clip. There were a few other groups camping but plenty of space and good sites for all. The challenge of the trail is the considerable altitude gain, but it's pretty steady throughout.

hiking
8 months ago

Labor Day Weekend was our first trip to Trampas Lakes. We took our three kids, ages 9-13, backpacking here. I'm not sure I would rate the trail up to the lakes as "difficult", "moderate" maybe. There's 2400 feet of elevation climb over 5.5. miles to get to the lakes and it's mostly a constant grade, so if you can just endure 5.5 miles of gentle climb, you'll be fine. We got up to the lakes in 6 hours, making plenty of stops. We got down in 3 hours and 15 minutes, hurrying to try to beat the inevitable afternoon rains. The climb up the mountain peak after that looked insane though; we didn't attempt it, as it's 2200 feet of climb in 1 mile. There are plenty of camping sites at the lakes and many felled trees provide firewood. There are a handful of decent camping sites along the river on your way up if you don't want to make the trip in one day. The best ones were at 2.0 and 2.4 miles in. Between about 2.4 and 4.4 miles in, the river isn't easily accessible from the trail, so get water when you can. There were plenty of fishermen at the lakes over Labor Day weekend, but I didn't see any of them catch anything. The lakes are beautiful and clear. Beware the wasps that live in the dead trees near the lakes. Two of us got stung by them. I'd recommend downloading the Alltrails map of this hike before you leave, as there's no cell service along the trail.

hiking
9 months ago

Amazing day hike today to one of the Twin Lakes! Fishing was tough due to the limited flys I took. Perhaps small to medium parachute adams would have been the ticket. Fish did not seem interested in caddis or chubbies. I did meet an angler who said he did great at Hidden Lake using caddis only. I will definitely fish that the next time we are up there as this was only a day hike. Despite the fishing, the hike was amazing! The trail was clear and the amount of flora and fauna was insane! Like being in a different world than NM. The lake was nice and cool! We jumped in to cool off. It’s an uphill battle all the way there but the hike back is relatively easy. Don’t let the uphill prevent you from getting there as you will be rewarded with and amazing lake experience! The hike back is much easier. Safe hiking and tight lines my friends!

hiking
9 months ago

great trail easy to find. the 1st set of lakes is around mile 6. full day of hiking but doable in one day. highly recommend. beautiful lakes in the shadow of mountain peaks.

hiking
9 months ago

We camped at the trailhead Friday night (8/2) and that was lovely. Very few people out there, beautiful spot to camp right next to the river, and it gave us some time to acclimate to the elevation. We were hoping to get out and start hiking by 7am, to beat the storms, but unfortunately we got a bit of a late start and the storms got an early start. We were about 3-4 miles in when the hail started and the lightening moved in and parked right on top of us for about two hours. We sheltered while the lightening was overhead and decided to not trek the rest of the way given, how bad the storm still looked up ahead. It looks like we just picked a bad day where it wasn’t just an afternoon storm but instead was storming across the entire state the rest of the day. That being said, the part of the hike we did was incredible! We will definitely be doing this again but with keeping a closer eye on the weather and getting as early of a start as possible. We can’t wait to try again!

hiking
10 months ago

First of all let me state that I have cancer and one of my chems shrinks my veins. So this hike became pretty challenging at altitude. But this was a pilgrimage for me to know I’m still alive....and we made it! That being said....WOW. What an amazing trail. The trail was loaded with scenery, wildflowers, and fun river crossings. I made the trip with my son and daughter. Both of whom kept me going. The trail is easy to follow and all recent blowdown had already been cleared. When we got to the top we picked a campsite in between the lakes. We had a tent, but decided to sleep under the stars. We were greeted by goats in the morning...frequent visitors I’m sure. My kids loved watching them. We had a clear calm morning so I got some amazing photos. My darn camp stove wouldn’t light. But we found some other campers that saved the day. Thanks my friends. I hope you and the youngster made it down safely. All that being said. This is not a trail for tourists. Proper equipment is needed especially hiking boots. The trail is covered with rocks and potential pratfalls. Secondly, the altitude can be rough...the last mile and a half after the cutbacks is a killer. The forestry service states it as a five mile hike. Prepare for over 6.5 miles. And lastly, the road can be rough, but go slow and you’ll make it. My mini recovered just fine :) So glad we made the hike. It was one of many great experiences in New Mexico!

hiking
10 months ago

Hike was beautiful. Trail is well maintained and no snow on the trail up to the lakes.

hiking
blowdown
10 months ago

We came in from the trail 31 trailhead off 207 and it was pretty busy being July 4th weekend. The trail itself is very easy despite some recent blowdown. The altitude, on the other hand, probably pushes this into the moderate category. The last mile specifically is pretty tough because it’s more vertical and you’re over 11000 ft. There’s a stunning mix of wildflowers, mixed pine forests, and stands of aspens. There are camp sites along the river at 2.2 and 3 miles out as well as several spaces up between the lakes at the top. The water was clear and most of the snow has now melted. There are still a few patches above 11000 and the high side of the lakes still have lots of snow. The 3 river crossings all have sturdy logs laid across that are easily passable unless the river is way up. There is a lot of large wood from blow down at the top, but not much firewood size stuff laying around so a small hand saw or other means of processing wood would be helpful if you want a campfire and plan on overnighting. We hammocked so flat ground wasn’t really an issue, but there were a few level spots for tents, especially on the far end of the lakes. Most of the fire rings at the top have logs placed around them for sitting, but a sit pad or camp chair sure makes it much more comfortable. Even though the altitude wore us out, we thoroughly enjoyed the hike and it was definitely a highlight of our tour of New Mexico. Definitely drive in from 207 through El Valle. It’s a dirt road with some pretty rough pot holes, but nothing like the big ruts, rocks, and river crossings going the other way.

hiking
11 months ago

What makes this trail "hard" is the elevation. As of late June, there is still snow pack, but we were able to get over the snow and to Trampas lake. If you wanted to camp up there, you could. We camped at the camp sites at the trail head instead, and enjoyed having our tent just a few feet from a bubbling stream. Good trail, well marked. Write down the details of how to get there, as there is no cell coverage up there. We did this trail on a Sunday, and only ran into a few other people.

hiking
blowdown
rocky
scramble
snow
11 months ago

4 amazing nights. Snow remains and increases into a thigh-high slog for the last mile. Very exhausting with heavy packs. Snow is melting, but was much better to traverse in the cold of the morning instead of later in the day after the snow loosens. Storms were tenacious and came quick bringing heavy hail and lightning. 3 main creek crossings increase in intensity and concentration but proved relatively easy. The trail is well marked. Some blowdown from large shallow rooted conifers. The snow was the most difficult part. This spellbinding stream-side trail, imbued with towering conifers and enchanting Aspen trees, is wreathed in metamorphic, granitic, and sedimentary gendarmes cascading into a cirque of fracturing headwalls and unceasing scree. The massif is tethered by an exciting and breathtaking arete that encircles the 11,400' Trampas Lakes. Facing intemperate weather, imminent rock falls, and daunting cornices we decided to make our approach through the avalanche fields and directly free climb the humbling couloir. God's blessing became unveiled as our approach was choked by deep snow and rerouted us to a hidden craggy wall we now lovingly refer to as "Hon Pass." Once we obtained the ridge, God and nature revealed a visual crescendo that will remain with us for a lifetime. Despite weather building we pushed to Sheepshead Peak at 12,696'. Intoxicating emotional and sensory elation was quickly abated by fast approaching thunderstorms. We rapidly and tediously descended the loose and falling rock to make it back to basecamp. Not 15 minutes after getting under the tarp we were met with heavy hail blanketing the ground and extraordinary lightning that had blown apart trees not 2 miles from basecamp (observed at egress). God allowed us to peer out deeply across His creation and filled our hearts with rejuvenation, but not without methodically dispensing with our pride and ego. Pushing beyond Sheepshead you can traverse the arete over the headwall/gendarmes to UN12900 and then to North Truchas to bag a 13er...but it certainly can become technical...and thrilling. Bring ambition, confidence, and an acute sense of the quickly changing weather. Cheers.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
snow
Mon May 27 2019

My goal for this Memorial Day weekend was to hike to the lakes, stay overnight, and go back the next day. The snow line is definitely receding. As I got to the halfway point, multiple people told me that snow was still ~3 ft approaching the switchbacks and that if you planned to stay at the lakes, you’d be sleeping in snow. At around the 3 mile mark, we passed some guys who echoed the same reports of snow and said that the lakes were even frozen over still; their pants and boots were soaked like they had been trekking through knee-deep snow. I opted to make camp at the 3.2 mile area. Temperatures are still below freezing at night and will definitely be colder at the lakes. The first mile has numerous blown down trees that look like they’re about 1-2 weeks old, stuff that you definitely have to walk around rather than over. Lastly, the river is raging! The water is ice cold, clear, and perfect for sleeping white noise.

hiking
Sat May 18 2019

This stream-side trail steadily climbs to a majestic cirque through aspen and mixed conifer forest. In warm and dry summer conditions, I imagine this would be a pretty mellow jaunt provided you're properly acclimatized to the elevation. As of yesterday, however, going was made significantly tougher and slower by very snowy conditions starting a little over halfway up. Although I was able to make it up to the lakes with minimal post-holing yesterday, I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better out there... Be ready for a slog if you do decide to go in the next 4 weeks at least!

backpacking
Mon May 13 2019

Beautiful trail and get campsites at the base of the trail or a couple of backcountry sites about 2.2 up the trail. We did not get to go all the way to the lakes since still heavy snow about 1.5 miles from the top. Great area though. Went May 13 and heavy snow though.

hiking
snow
Sun Mar 17 2019

Do not go in march. The road was covered in snow so we hiked 3 hours just to get to the 12 mile trail and it was at least 3 feet of snow. We had to turn around when the “road” ended.

Sat Oct 27 2018

Hiked 10/26. Only one there up and back. 27 degrees at TH. Snow last mile plus, up to 8-12 inches in some places but passable.

hiking
Wed Oct 17 2018

Hiked 10/16, snow on upper 1/3 of trail, so far not more that 1-3” so still easily passable. Trekking poles were helpful on some slippery bits and creek crossings

hiking
Thu Sep 13 2018

This was a beautiful but decently strenuous day hike. Avoid FR 639 as you come out of Truchas unless you want a fun 4-wheeling experience. Going around to FR 207 (El Valle Road) is a more relaxing route. Only a couple of cars there when we arrived. Make sure to stop and look around occasionally, as it is easy to keep looking down and focus on the trail. Didn’t see anyone going up until we got to the lakes, then saw a couple of camping groups there. A very beautiful area.

Fri Aug 17 2018

My 13 year old daughter and I started Friday 7/13 and hiked the 5.6 miles (2.5 hours) to Trampas Lakes. We were the only soules there and we had the whole place to ourselves! Stayed one night and made the return hike in 2 hours and 12 minutes. Finally saw one couple hiking up as we we're headed down. Definitely uphill on the way to the lake and we took a few breaks.

Mon Jun 25 2018

According to my Fitbit, the trail from the parking area is about 13 miles out and back. There were a lot of cars in the lot, but we had long stretches where we didn’t see anyone which was nice. Beautiful views with lots of flowers and minimal bugs.

hiking
Thu Jun 21 2018

We took road 207 following the recommendation done by Brenda, (thank you) we couldn't see a sign for Trampas Lake or Forest Road 207 from Hwy 76 instead it read El Valle Rd. The scenery was beautiful once we got to Trampas Lake we also decided to go to Hidden Lake which is a mile from the Trampas Lake sign. Very nice hike

Mon Jun 18 2018

This was definitely one to put in the memory books! Definitely got cold and windy at night but I would totally do it again!

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