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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Pecos Baldy Lake, NM

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Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Northeast
5 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 14 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,829 feet
Elevation Gain 2,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,793 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 27.97
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
34  2018-05-31
Pecos Wilderness
28  2018-05-31
Pecos Wilderness
115  2014-10-05 johnny88
19  2010-10-02 BrettVet
Author BrettVet
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 40
Photos 335
Trips 48 map ( 525 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:50am - 6:00pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
got sheep
by BrettVet

Likely In-Season!
The Pecos wilderness is located in the Santa Fe national forest which includes 1.6 million acres of pristine alpine wilderness. The Santa Barbara Divide forms a mountainous barrier and spine of the Pecos wilderness. The Pecos River and Jack's Creek are the major watersheds on the eastern side of the divide. The close proximity to Santa Fe makes weekends crowded in the campgrounds and lower trails. This trail is well traveled on weekends, so plan your trip mid week if possible. Rainy season is July and August with the best months being late June because of high country snow and September and October. Be also aware that this hike is at high elevation, between 9000 and 12000 ft, altitude sickness and lightning are concerns.

The Pecos baldy trail is well traveled because of the spectacular high mountain scenery , wild life , flowers . Once you get about 2 miles from the trailhead you regain your solitude even on weekends. The reason it is crowded is that it is so spectacular.

The trailhead is located in the equine area of the Jack's Creek campground. It has ample parking and a restroom. There is a parking fee and the area is supervised by a campground host. Overnight camping is in the main area of the campground and is (see fees below) per night. They fill up rapidly on weekends so arrive early.

The trail #25 leaves directly across from the parking area and starts heading up. The first 1000 feet of elevation takes place in the first mile of the trail. The trail then levels out through ponderosa pine forest and breaks out into a high mountain meadow with the first critical junction. Trail #25 continues on to Beatty's cabin and Trail 257 heads to Pecos Baldy Lake. The reason this junction is critical is that the Pecos Baldy trail doubles back and a lot of people see Pecos Baldy Peak ahead of them and miss the turn. Take a minute to look across the Pecos River valley to the east. Hamilton Mesa which is the grassy area directly across the valley. Trail #257 immediately goes into a massive aspen grove and then breaks into another meadow frequented by elk and grazing cattle. In July and August the meadows are covered with a blanket of wildflowers. The trail crosses a couple of bogs the enters the woods again and drops into the Jack's Creek drainage at mile marker 4.0 . When you cross jacks creek GO RIGHT and stay on trail 257. Another trail intersects hear and the signage is poor. The trail begins the last climb to the lake which is in a basin below the peak. Just before the trail enters the lake basin the Skyline Trail #251 crosses. The Skyline Trail follows the ridgeline of the Santa Barbara Divide in a wide arc around the Pecos river drainage. To the right is mostly above the tree line. There are a lot good campsites to the right and left along this trail that are flat with water. There is no camping by the lake. The clear mountain lake with Pecos Baldy peak as a backdrop is stunning. This lake has a resident herd of Bighorn Sheep that are beyond friendly and can be pests around the campsites. Sometimes they are on the ridgeline high above the lake to the north. It is worth packing binoculars. I have heard conflicting reports about fish in the lake. Several fly fishermen were complaining about no fish but one old-timer swears he catches trout with worms.

The lake is a great first night backpack and can be part of a bigger loop to Truchas lake , Beatty's cabin and beyond.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-10-02 BrettVet
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Pecos Baldy Lake
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Pecos Wilderness
    Chumley was in charge and planned a solid trip to New Mexico. Our original plan was to spend five days in the wilderness but we cut it short one day due to weather and other factors.

    We departed Phoenix on Wednesday after work and stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque. We woke on Thursday morning and drove the final two hours to the Jacks Creek Trailhead in the Santa Fe National Forest. The months of planning were behind us and it was go time!

    Thursday, May 31st
    We arrived to our trailhead and packed up and started the hike in. We started by dropping a few hundred feet to the Pecos River. We followed the river for a bit and then the trail makes a solid climb to the Iron Gate Campground. We took a break there and then continued to the northeast. The miles were tough with our very heavy packs loaded with five days worth of food and warm gear. With much effort we arrived at our camp and found a nice site situated along the Rio Valdez. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing around camp. There will be no campfires for us due to stage 2 fire restrictions. We all turned in relatively early because it was cold out.

    Friday, June 1st
    Our day two started with a solid climb up to the mesa above. Along the way Chumley and I saw a wolf roughly a half mile away. We questioned if it was a coyote but I saw it again 15 minutes later and it was way too big to be a coyote. We continued on and took a break just below Beatty's Cabin. During the break, Chumley and I hiked up to it. There are a few cabins and they are in great condition. It appears the forest services uses these.

    We continued hike and gained elevation. We eventually selected a campsite in a drainage. Water was close by and our camp was comfortable. We settled in for the evening and it was warmer than our first night. We stayed up a bit later but were in bed by 10pm.

    Saturday, June 2nd
    Day three started with another solid climb. We were at high elevation of roughly 11k ft. With much effort we reached the Skyline Trail and then started our Traverse. We took a short break by Truchas Lake. From there we continued for our third night's camp. Chumley detoured to Truchas Peak while Kyle and I headed for the lake. Once there I made a loop around the lake and then picked a campsite by the trail. Chumley showed up a bit later and we settled in for another night. Chumley said some nasty weather was going to move in the next day so we decided to bail the next day.

    Sunday, June 3rd
    We woke early on Sunday and started packing up. It was an overcast day and it looked like rain could fall any second. We quickly packed up and the weather cooperated. Once packed, we started our return to the trailhead. The going was very easy as it was all downhill. We arrived back to the trailhead and then packed up and headed for Santa Fe where we grabbed lunch.

    Final Thoughts
    This was a great hike in an amazing area! I'd really like to return another time and see more of the wilderness. There is a lot to explore out there. Thanks Chumley for planning and thanks for driving!

    Pecos Baldy Lake
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Pecos Wilderness
    I had set my eye on backpacking in the Sangre de Cristos a while ago, and decided to do some research and try to find a good mix of things to see. The bonus of this area for me is that it's national forest, doesn't require permits, and allows dogs! After gathering a bunch of data, I finalized a 5-day, 4-night hike that covered 36 miles with about 10 more miles of side hikes.

    On our first night, we re-evaluated the plan and decided to cut it one day shorter. This required a revision to the route and some trails we didn't have mapped out, but it all turned out great in the end, with the exception of missing out on visiting Pecos Falls.

    Day 1 - 10 miles, 1000 feet, 2400aeg
    We started from Jack's Creek TH and took the Hamilton Mesa Trail #249 toward Iron Gate Campground. The trail drops 500 feet and then parallels the Pecos River before climbing 1000 feet to the campground at 4 miles. From there we took Mora Flats Trail #250 down toward Mora Flats at about the 8 mile mark. There's a couple of great campsites here along the Rio Mora. Next we headed upstream on Rio Valdez Trail #224 to its intersection with Bob Grounds Trail #270, where we set up camp for the night at a great site a short distance upstream.

    Day 2 - 9 miles, 1200 feet, 3000aeg

    The day started with a moderate 500 foot climb along the Bob Grounds Trail. The trail climbs up onto Hamilton Mesa, and the upper part is on open grassy slopes where the tread is difficult to find in spots. This area featured my first wolf sighting, though at a quarter mile distance, which is probably just about how far away I'd prefer to be! The next 2+ miles led down to the Pecos River. This stretch of trail has not been maintained in a while and there were several thickets of deadfall that really slowed us down. We took a break at the river, before a quick side trip up to Beatty's Cabin. There are actually 3 cabins and they are nicely appointed and get regular use. There's even running water!

    We headed upstream on Beatty's Trail #25 for a mile before turning onto Chimayosos Trail #246, which parallels the scenic Rito de los Chimayosos. This was an unplanned route based on our revised itinerary so we didn't really know where we would camp. We set our minds on a spot along the creek near the 11,000 foot contour and the junction with the Jack's Creek Trail. We were a bit disappointed with the options here, but didn't want to push on any further. There was running water, and enough flat ground for us to make a camp work. So we did!

    Day 3 - 8 miles, 1200 feet, 2300aeg
    Our morning began with a 1000 foot climb over 1.5 miles to the Skyline Trail. From there it was a mile west to the beautiful alpine Truchas Lakes, set 1500 feet below the crest of the Sangre de Cristos. We took a break here, and I was a little disappointed that our revised plan made this no longer one of our camping nights. It would be a fantastic place to spend a couple of nights! But a pair of backpackers at the lake informed us that the night before had been extremely windy, so perhaps we lucked out after all.

    Skyline #251 heads south along the slopes of Truchas Peak for about 2.5 miles before emerging from the forest and heading up along the exposed grassy Trailriders Wall. The next two miles were some of the most scenic of the trip, as the Skyline Trail flirted with 12,000 feet and views in all directions were spectacular. (Side note, this is the only place on the entire trip that there was any hope of cell service at all.) The next mile drops about 500 feet to a scenic lake at the foot of East Pecos Baldy where we would make our camp for the night.

    Day 4 - 7 miles, -2700 feet, 150aeg
    The weather forecast had always called for a chance of showers on Sunday, so we were all prepared for that possibility. However, on Saturday when I had gotten cell service, I checked for an update and was not particularly pleased by the new information. Words including "severe storms" "damaging hail" "high wind" "lightning" and "possibly a tornado" were not the kinds of things I like to read about when I'm backpacking in the wilderness above 11,000 feet on the crest of a major mountain range.

    So we decided to skip any side hikes and get off the mountain early in the day. Even that caught us off guard as we awoke to light drizzle. It was actually quite pleasant in retrospect. These mountains really need the rain, so a chilly, foggy, drizzly morning was actually nice. It made for a great hike out too, with gray skies contrasting the bright greens of the newly dampened trees around us.

    We headed down on Jacks Creek Trail again, before meeting up with the lower portion of Beatty's Trail #25 which took us back to the trailhead and completed the loop. We finished on the horse trail rather than the hiking trail, which is about half a mile longer. Thunder rumbled, the rain picked up a bit, and we were on a mission to be done. Back in the truck by 11am!

    With the trip cut a day short, we went into Santa Fe for a good lunch before heading back toward Arizona with plans to stop for the night along the way. During the drive we encountered that weather we didn't want to be on the mountain for, and I can unequivocally say we made the right decision! It was some of the heaviest rain and hail I have ever driven through, and only the second time I have ever stopped driving and taken refuge under a gas station canopy.

    Final Thoughts
    I really enjoyed this area and would go back in a heartbeat. There are a whole bunch of trails and beautiful streams, lakes, and amazing mountain peaks. All this and it's only about 8 hours of driving from the valley. I'd like to go back in the fall as the aspens here would add an extra touch of perfection to this place. Top 10!

    Note: my mileage stats include extras not part of the base mileages listed above.

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    $2.00 parking fee & overnight camping is $10.00 per night

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Santa Fe take I-25 north to the Pecos exit. From the town of Pecos take NM 63 north up the Pecos canyon for 23 miles. The road is paved but the last 10 miles is a narrow winding 1.5 lane with no center strip. Take it slow. Jacks Creek Campground is at the end of the road.upon entering campground right turn to equine camping, trailhead and parking.
    page created by BrettVet on Oct 02 2010 4:07 pm
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