backpacking new mexico pecos wilderness

[M002] NM High Country Expedition

Pecos Wilderness

Pecos Baldy lake/Truchas Peak (south)

This particular backpacking trip is an epic 3 day tour de Pecos. We will not only visit the wildernesses most impressive alpine lake but we will also climb the highest peak. Truchas Peaks are the heart of the wilderness and make up the headwaters of the Pecos river . They consist of three craggy mountains that rise up to over 13,000 ft. Because of where these mountains are situated access typically requires an overnight trip. This is hands down the premier summit experience to be had in this area. The never ending views, alpine scenery, and challenge of these high altitudes make this the most empowering trip we offer.

Day 1

This spectacular section of the wilderness requires about an hour and a half drive from Santa Fe to access it’s starting point. We will pass through the village of Pecos, taking us up canyon along the wild Pecos river. After passing the small village of Terrero at 13 miles the road narrows and climbs high above the river. We will continue on this road to the Jack’s Creek trailhead. On the we will pass a series of large creeks and rivers that make up the Pecos river system. This is a popular destination for car camping and fishing during the Summer months. From our trailhead we will climb through the dense and well shaded pine forest to a ridge that splits the Pecos river and Jack’s creek drainages. After about 2.5 miles the ridge crests at a series of large meadows and lovely aspen groves. Cattle are commonly seen here during the Summer months as it is a popular area for grazing. The ascent mellows out a bit for the next couple of miles and pleasant walking through meadows and patches of forest bring us to Jack’s creek. Our climbing will begin again as we ascend the creek’s drainage to it’s source (Pecos Baldy Lake). A half mile of hiking will keep us alongside the welcoming waters and will bring us to the junction with the Dockweiler trail. At this point the trail continues to follow the drainage but the creek is not seen again until we near the lake. The terrain changes as we find ourselves hiking through a burn scar. New growth dominate the area and the quick to sprout Aspens give hope to a healthy stretch of forest to be had once again. A couple miles of hiking, following the forested canyon upstream will bring us to the impressive lake basin. This is where we will spend the next 2 nights making our basecamp somewhere in the vicinity of the lake respecting NM guidelines of not camping within 200 ft of the lake basin or streams.

Day 2

The typical monsoon pattern in this area will have thunderheads beginning to form around these high peaks as early as 10am. Since the brunt of our day will be in the alpine above the trees a very early start will be necessary in order to increase our likelihood of making it to the summit. There is potential for a day with no moisture at all but up here it is too hard to predict and not worth taking the risk. From basecamp we will pick up the skyline trail and head North through the pine forest to the alpine tundra of an area known as trailriders wall. Once we exit the forest we will leave the protection of the coniferous shelter. Everything changes with intensity above treeline. After several hours in this wild, exposed land it is easy to understand how not much survives up here. Although incredibly beautiful it is a harsh and unforgiving land that demands the utmost respect from anyone who passes by. Weather provided we will continue on to one of New Mexico’s highest peaks. A couple miles of gentle walking on rolling tundra will bring us to an area where we will leave the established trail and head directly towards a false summit which blocks our view of Truchas peak. A mild descent from the false summit will lead us to a saddle. From here the hiking will become more challenging and prove to be quite steep. No climbing is involved but there may be spots where scrambling will feel necessary. Once atop, our presence will be rewarded with never ending views and the feeling of climbing one of the areas highest and most remote mountains. We will return via the same way we came, however, is a storm rolls in we may opt to take a longer but forested trail back to basecamp.

Day 3

Depending on the groups energy levels, desires, and of course weather we will have the opportunity of hiking to the top of Pecos Baldy before making our trek back to the jack’s creek trailhead. If it feels right for everyone we will leave camp early and begin our ascent of Pecos Baldy. This summit is only a mile or so from camp but gains over 1,000 ft in elevation on its way. There is a nice path leading all the way to the top. More breathtaking views await the determined hiker. After the summit we will head back to camp and pack up. Once rested and ready we will make the 7 mile trek back to the trailhead. Regardless of making it to the tops of the mountains this will be a wonderful trek with incredible opportunities for exploration. This is an ultimate tour of New Mexico’s high country and the vastness of the Pecos Wilderness.

Out and Back Hike
Total Hiking Distance: Lake only 15 miles, Lake and Truchas peak 23 miles, Lake with Truchas Peak and Pecos Baldy 24.5 miles
Estimated Hiking Time: Day 1: 5 hours, Day 2: 7-9 hours, Day 3: With Peak 6 hours

Departure Date People Group Trip Status Prices
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