Hike to the Trampas Lakes in Carson National Forest

11 miles 2400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Andrew Miller

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.

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful hike and excellent backpacking trip

I drove to the trail head in the late summer in a very low clearance Honda Fit with no problems, so the road is in pretty good condition now. If arriving late in the afternoon, plenty of camping is available at the trail head. There is a little footpath that runs southeast from the parking area along the river with some nice, secluded spots. The five and a half mile hike up the mountain from 9000 ft to 11400 ft is not a walk in the park if you are not used to the elevation. I drove from Oklahoma City (elevation 1200 ft) and with 35-45 lbs on my back it took me a surprising three and a half hours to get up the mountain. I'm not in superb shape, but I'm active. The hike up is beautiful with the rushing river running nearby the entire way (with a couple of crossings). On labor day weekend there was a group ahead of me and behind me and a couple campsites on the trail heading up. The lakes area is stunning. There were another three or four groups camping there, but there is plenty of areas to find your own peaceful spot. I was gassed after the hike up and never made the scramble to ridge to the northwest, but it looked the most doable. I couldn't find the spring the other reviewer, Bryan Seaton, mentioned. At least it wasn't anywhere I considered accessible (it seemed like it would be somewhere southwest of the higher lake), so I ended up having to boil the lake water. All in all, great hike, great camping area, and I'd love to go back sometime to get to the top of the ridge for what are probably incredible vistas. Going back down the next day was much easier and only took me an hour and 45 minutes.

Marmot Town

Great hike. Camped on the cliff side of the lake on the left(south). The hillside was alive with marmots. I've never seen so many in one place. No need for a water filter as there is a spring that feeds the lake also on the cliff side(I think it was south). As far as never getting done, Don't know about that. There were five other groups camping at the two lakes I visited. Hidden lake may have had no occupants.


The Rockies at their finest. Thick, wet forest. Moderate hike. We went on Memorial Day with intentions to camp at the lakes however, the three feet of snow changed our plans. This is a summer hike unless you plan on getting up early enough to make it an out and back day hike before the snow softens in the afternoon.

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