Hike to Nambé Lake

Ski Santa Fe

High elevation hike through forests of pine and aspen ending at a crystal clear emerald lake under giant exposed peaks. 

Starting at the ski basin above Santa Fe, where parking is ample and the drive to reach it is staggeringly beautiful, you head north from the bottom of the parking lot from a well marked trailhead.  

The climb starts right out of the gate, and at a starting altitude of 10,000 ft above sea level you feel its toll right off the bat.  This hike isn't overly long at 6.2 miles out and back, but the steep grade and rocky and root filled footing make for quite a challenge at some points.  The trek is worth it as you pass through moss covered pines, to glowing yellow aspens, and eventually follow along a small river to reveal a beautiful lake surrounded by giant rock slides, towering cliff faces, and wide open blue sky.  This trail has a ton of unique moments, it really does light up and glow under the fall aspen leaves, and when you are climbing up towards the top the boulder lined river is cool, shady, and the perfect companion.  

Some notes on the trail.  Once you reach the river both sides of it have a developed foot path, and either are navigable to the top.  You will ask yourself, 'how much farther can it possibly be?' At least 3 times, but not 4, and if you encounter others on the trail as you descend you will be asked this same question 3 to 4 more times.  There are Shrikes along the trail that people have previously fed, they are gorgeous birds and will follow you the length of your hike, it's entertaining but don't feed wild animals.  

At about a mile in there is a junction where 254 cuts off from a trail down to Nambé River, and while you will eventually encounter the river later on make sure to stay right and follow 254 until you reach the sign and trail upwards towards Nambé Lake.  

Beautiful hike, a lot of steep climbing.  Pack a lunch. 

Pack List

  • Water 
  • Hat 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Layers 
  • Sturdy Trail Shoes or Hiking Boots 
  • Lunch 
  • Camera 
  • First aid kit
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RT Distance 6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 1800 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Rewarding hike in the Santa Fe Ski Area

This beautiful hike is only about 15 miles from town and right on the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range which is the southernmost subrange of the Rockies. The hike takes you through breathtaking aspens and along a small river until you reach peaceful Name Lake. The trail is a bit challenging but worth the serenity at the top. The drive up to the ski area also offers spectacular views along the way.


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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