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Winsor National Recreational Trail #254 - 2 members in 3 triplogs have rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
3 triplogs
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3 Triplogs
Oct 19 2019

 Guides 2
 Routes 216
 Photos 4,163
 Triplogs 348

50 male
 Joined Apr 13 2011
 Gilbert, AZ
Santa Fe BaldyNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Oct 19 2019
Hiking14.82 Miles 3,800 AEG
Hiking14.82 Miles   6 Hrs   51 Mns   2.22 mph
3,800 ft AEG      10 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This is the "Humphreys-from-Inner-Basin"hike of New Mexico, albeit with a little less AEG and a little less impressive aspen groves, but with the added bonuses of multiple streams and summit views down to a nice, alpine lake. Lucky for me, my travels to Santa Fe allowed me to catch the area in peak fall colors season.

The approach to Santa Fe Baldy begins at the Santa Fe ski resort parking area, which sits at 10,300 ft. There is ample parking (no fee) next to the TH, which is furnished with bathroom facilities, but no water.

Right out of the gate, the trail climbs approximately 600 feet in the first 3/4 mile, leaving the unacclimated lungs and calves a bit burning. Topping out at about 10,900, you reach the Pecos Wilderness Boundary, which is marked by a fence. For a shorter hike with views, you can turn right here and follow the fence line up to Deception Peak and on to Lake Peak, with views down to Nambe Lake below. But those bound for Santa Fe Baldy continue through the gate and begin a gentle, contouring descent around the north side of the mountain divide. Approximately, 2 1/4 mile, you arrive at a junction where taking a (signed) right will lead you up to Nambe Lake. Continuing across the stream that descends from Nambe Lake, the Winsor trail continues its contour and descends down to about 10,400 feet, where at about 3.6 miles, you cross another stream.

At that point, the trail heads in a more northerly direction and begins switchbacking--at first gently, and then more steeply, up to the Santa Fe Baldy saddle. What has been to this point a mostly forested hike, opens up to views of the surrounding peak, as you approach and then cross the tree line. As it was a cold but clear mid-October day on my hike, this was also the first time the sun shed some warming rays on me, unfiltered by the thick forest.

At the saddle, which lies at about 11,700 feet, the warmth of the sun was blunted by the countervailing wind, which picked up and prompted a short break to layer up a bit.

More interestingly, the saddle provides your first glimpse of the other side of the divide, which on this day, painted a picture of fall colors in the forested hills and valleys beyond. At this junction--nearly 6 miles in, the Winsor trail continues down the other side of the divide down towards Katherine Lake (not visible from the saddle). That's a trip for another day, though you can look forward to seeing Katherine Lake from just beyond the summit a little later on.

Leaving the trusty Winsor trail, at the saddle, the destination on this day is Santa Fe Baldy, the trail to which hangs a hard left at the saddle, and much like its Humphreys counterpart in AZ, leaves a steep mile and another 900+ feet of AEG to make the summit.

The trail up to this point is well groomed and easy to follow. Just past the saddle, the trail enters a rocky area, which makes the trail somewhat more difficult to discern in spots, but nothing that requires significant route finding skills.

Now fully above the treeline, the views get more and more expansive as you ascend. From the saddle on up, it's likely to be a little windy. On this day, it was (thankfully) not much more than a breeze--though still quite cold, with short stints of photo-opping followed quickly with shoving my hands back into my pockets to re-warm them.

The trail generally follows the divide up and around to the north until the summit cairn comes into view. The cairn provided welcome shelter from the easterly blowing winds. For some reason, my Garmin registered the summit at 12,660, rather than 12,622.

Venturing beyond (and yes, down) from the summit means some additional AEG to get back to the trail, but is well worth it for the "money shot" of the hike with beautiful views down to Katherine Lake, nearly 1000 feet below. Lots of good spots to sit down, enjoy the sun and the break from the wind, and soak in the beauties of nature surrounding you in this alpine environment.

On this day, I crossed paths with only one person on the entire trip up, and enjoyed complete solitude at the summit. After a good 20 minutes exploring the summit/Lake Katherine views, I returned the way I came. Those last couple of miles going back UP to the wilderness boundary--though gently rising, were more taxing on my "ascenders" than I wanted. The steep descent over the last 3/4 mile brought me back to the parking area, followed by a winding and beautiful canyon drive, during which the best fall colors were on proud display from about 8000-9500 ft.--with the roadsides swelling with carloads of visitors, getting their fall color fix in.
May 25 2018

 Guides 24
 Routes 303
 Photos 8,749
 Triplogs 824

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
Winsor National Recreational Trail #254North Central, NM
North Central, NM
Backpack avatar May 25 2018
Backpack17.57 Miles 4,542 AEG
Backpack17.57 Miles
4,542 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
This was the first stop on my five day New Mexico excursion. I completed an overnight backpack to Katherine Lakes and hit the summit of Santa Fe Baldy on the way out in the Pecos Wilderness.

The hike into Katherine was definitely a green tunnel, but there was a nice section of aspen and some other pretty scenic sections of forest that helped with the lack of views. The views start as you climb to the saddle marking the intersection with the Santa Fe Baldy trail and the trail down to Katherine Lake. The saddle is really an excellent spot to take in your surroundings and appreciate for the first time the beauty of the range you are hiking in. From the saddle, it was down to Katherine. This is a very popular backpacking destination and I knew I would have company and I was right. I think there ended up being about 4-5 groups on the lake that night, but it was by no means crowded. The lake was really an amazing destination, but I could not imagine staying here on a busier weekend.

I got an early start for the hike out because I wanted to bag Santa Fe and hopefully not bump into too many people on the way out. The early start enabled me to catch a pretty amazing sunrise, maybe on of better ones I have had in the back country in recent memory. Baldy was a fun peak and the dogs had a blast, marmots everywhere. The views from the peak were superb and the trail up well worn and straightforward. Katherine Lake may be more scenic from above the treeline in my opinion. The hike out got way to crowded for my liking, which was expected on the Saturday of Memorial weekend. I was very happy to have got some quality time in that area before the hoards arrived. I probably passed 25-30 backpackers and the same amount of day hikers on the way out. But the crowds did not diminish the trip for me in anyway and I still left feeling elated about the area with a big itch to get back to the more scenic and less crowded areas of the wilderness. A perfect intro to the wilderness and a perfect backpacking option for my old pups.
Named place
Named place
Lake Katherine
5 archives
Sep 04 2017

 Guides 9
 Routes 118
 Photos 1,079
 Triplogs 118

30 male
 Joined Mar 06 2016
 Salt River Valle
Nambe LakeNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Sep 04 2017
Hiking7.41 Miles 2,243 AEG
Hiking7.41 Miles   4 Hrs   29 Mns   1.84 mph
2,243 ft AEG      28 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
On our way back from visiting family in Albuquerque, we drove up to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and entered the Pecos Wilderness on the Winsor Trail. Nambe Lake is beautiful and the water is fine for a swim! It's not a true alpine lake since it's not fed by glaciers, but it is a nice high altitude mountain lake. Rio Nambe follows the trail down from the lake.

Did this hike with my parents and I'm thankful they're up for hiking with me! Even if I had to slow down my pace... ;)

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Nambe Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
- there's nothing like finding Water in the Desert -
2 archives
average hiking speed 2.03 mph

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.

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