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backpacking guide to New Mexico
The Pecos Wilderness is a vast and wonderful recreation area providing for excellent day hikes as well as much longer sojourns into the wilderness via boot and pack. The Pecos Wilderness is 223,333 acres and gained its wilderness designation in 1933. The Pecos Wilderness is a world able to paint a thousand pictures with towering alpine peaks, shimmering aspens, crystal trout streams with native cutthroat throat, turquoise lakes. If you are really looking for the ultimate in New Mexico wilderness experiences look no farther, a lifetime awaits you. Listen for bugle of the elk as you awaken to a New Mexico sunrise.
The vast nature and extreme topography of the Pecos Wilderness make it a difficult place to travel. If you do go for an extended journey use the greatest precaution and travel with a partner. We carry maps and guides for a successful trip into the Pecos Wilderness. Stop by our store on your way to get up to date information and last minute gear and supplies.

Truchas Peaks

Hamilton Mesa

Santa Fe Baldy

Lake Katherine

Hiking up Santa Fe Baldy


Access from North
The Northern access Point is near the town of Truchas, NM. These are the points of access for the Truchas Peaks, some of New Mexico’s Highest towering over 13,000 feet. These are remote access points and guidebooks as well as maps should be consulted before journeying into the wilderness. San Leandro Lakes as well as the Brazos Cabin can be accessed from the these Northern gateways. Be cautious as to not leave valuables in your auto as New Mexico trail heads have experienced a fare share of break ins.

Santa Barbara Campground

  • Truchas Peaks and Lakes, 12-14 miles
    Change in elevation: 3,200 to the lakes; 4,300 to the peak.
    Hike rating: moderate to difficult; no trail to summit.
  • Horseshoe Lake, 11 miles
    Change in elevation: 2,600 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.

Trampas Canyon Campground

  • San Leonardo Lakes, 5 miles
    Change in elevation: 2,500 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Hidden Lake, 6 miles
    Change in elevation: 2,200 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
Access from South
Access to southern trail heads can be found via the town of Pecos and the Pecos canyon. The Pecos Canyon follows the Pecos river for twenty Miles to the top of the canyon. This is a great jump off point for Pecos Baldy, Stewart Lake, Spirit Lake as well as Santa Fe Baldy and Lake Katherine. Back Packers should consider lightweight flyfishing gear for these magnificent high alpine lakes as well as the Pecos river. Car Camping is available at Holy Ghost Creek as well as Jacks Creek campground and Horsethief Meadows.

Winsor Creek Campground

  • Stewart Lake, 8 miles
    Change in elevation: 1,500 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Lake Johnson, 12 miles
    Change in elevation: 2,800 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate to strenuous.
    Panchuela Campground
  • Horse Thief Meadow, 5 miles
    Change in elevation: 1,400 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Pecos Baldy/Pecos Baldy Lake
    10 to 12 miles
    Change in elevation: 4,100 feet to the peak, 3,000 to the lake.
    Hike rating: moderate to strenuous.

Jack's Creek Campground

  • Beatty's Cabin, 8 miles
    Change in elevation: 3,100 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Hamilton Mesa, 8 miles
    Change in elevation: 1,400 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.

Iron Gate Campground

  • Mora Flats, 3 miles
    Change in elevation: 100 feet.
    Hike rating: easy to moderate.
  • Pecos Falls, 9 miles
    Change in elevation: 1,400 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.

Access from West  

Borrego Mesa Campground

  • Trailriders Wall, 10 miles
    Change in elevation: 3,000 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Joe Vigil Lake, 8 mileS
    Change in elevation: 2,200 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate
Access from Southwest
The Southwest access points are the closest to downtown Santa Fe an provide excellent day hikes as well as gateways to the Pecos wilderness from the Southwest. Many of the same places are accessed from this side as on the Pecos side. One can easily climb Santa Fe Baldy or Lake Peak in a well planned day. This is a very easy place to get your feet wet in the Pecos Wilderness and is probable the most heavily traveled access point. Please refer to the listed recommendations for more thorough information regarding the hikes in this area. Day Hikes in Santa Fe, published by the Sierra club is a great resource.
  • Puerto Nambe, 4 miles.
    Change in elevation: 2,000 feet (via Lake Peak).
    Hike rating: moderate to difficult.
  • Santa Fe Baldy, 7 miles.
    Change in elevation: 2,200 feet.
    Hike rating: difficult, no trail to summit.
  • Lake Katherine, 7 miles.
    Change in elevation: 1,600 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.
  • Spirit Lake, 7 miles.
    Change in elevation: 600 feet.
    Hike rating: moderate.



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