Hike to the Trampas Lakes in Carson National Forest

Trampas Trailhead Campground

This hike is consistently rated one of New Mexico's best and least hiked trails. Enjoy breathtaking views of two remote alpine lakes. Take a bonus hike to the horseshoe ridge line for an incredible 360 view of the Santa Fe National Forest, Carson National Forest and beyond.

This hike is worth its weight in gold. By far one of the most beautiful places in all of New Mexico. Located in the Carson National Forest, the options for camping are limitless. Did I mention this is ranked one of New Mexico's best hikes yet it rarely gets done. The potential for solitude is very likely.

The drive to the trailhead is a bit of a doosey. Start by heading east out of the tiny town of Truchas. Take Forest Road 639. This road will be closed after heavy snow so plan accordingly. You'll need a 4x4 or a high clearance SUV, the road is pretty ragged. Drive 10 miles until you cross the Trampas River. The trailhead is just a quarter of a mile south of the bridge.

The trailhead starts at 8,900ft, winding along the trampas river. This hikel starts out nice and flat as you wind along the river, crossing it a few times. Eat lunch or take a break around mile 3. After you hike through an aspen grove, the trail will begin to climb. There are a few switchbacks as you begin most of the elevation gain. Just before the final push to the twin lakes, you'll have the option to detour north and check out Hidden Lake a short mile there and back. If not, continue south for .5 miles and the lakes are dead ahead.

Another great part about this area is the ability to scramble about 1200 ft to the ridge line surrounding the peaks. From here, you can see Wheeler Peak to the north, and even scramble Truchas Peak to the south. Crack a few beers and enjoy the emerald waters of these pristine alpine lakes.

Pack List

  • Day Pack
  • Trekking Poles
  • Water and filtration system for refill at the lakes
  • Hammock (trust me on this one)
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Brewskis
  • Gaiters or Waterproof boots if hiked in the winter months
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RT Distance 11 Miles
Elevation Gain 2400 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Awesome Getaway

We were the only ones on any of the campsites at both Trampas Lake and Hidden Lakes. We saw a couple bears early on trailhead but had no encounters later on. With the cooler weather the shaded areas were chilly, but we were about to find some wood that was dry enough to make a nice fire. The trail was easy to follow and straight forward. We went up early on a Sunday morning and got to the Lakes in about 2 1/2 hours and got back down the next morning in about an hour 45.


First off there are two ways to get to this trailhead, one way does REQUIRE 4 x 4 high clearance vehicles the other way it does NOT. The road from Truchas is the high clearance road (75 to 639). The road just north of Trampas is suitable for any other type of vehicle (207). The trail is heavily shaded in the morning and evening. Nice when it's hot. It's a climb with the first 3/4 gradual but the last 1/4 a bit steeper but not terrible. Dog friendly for sure but bury the waste! Plenty of campsite options all around the two lakes. There is plenty of firewood but it may be wet, seems like the area gets a lot of precip. Might bring an axe to chop up the downed trees. If you have a hammock this is the perfect place for one!

Incredible Hike

This is truly a testament to the 'land of enchantment' motto of NM. I went in mid October and was blown away but the beauty. This hike took my breath away towards the end as well because of the elevation gain but it could have been the sight of the alpine lakes. Just two other people were there, we stayed over and walked down the next day- some signs of black bears were on the trail ( tracks & scat) This hike is my favorite so far.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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