Santa Fe Baldy

My friends and I had a Saturday off together and we were craving a long hike.  We had some snowfall in Santa Fe this week, but with a chance of thunderstorms in Pecos and Abiquiu we decided to stay in Santa Fe and embrace the unwelcomed late-season flakes. 

The trail to Santa Fe Baldy and Lake Katherine begins with a few uphill switchbacks followed by a long descent through spruce trees and aspens.  This is my favorite section of the Winsor trail; even when leafless, the bark of the aspens is so beautiful and makes the trail feel sunny.   

Kua is excited about the snow!

Beautiful blue skies.

Kua found a skull.  Lovely.

The slushy snow made the hike more challenging, especially on the return trip, but thankfully it wasn’t deep in this section.  The trail then crosses two creeks and leads to the Puerto Nambe clearing.  This was about the halfway point, where we rested briefly and prepared for a 2.5 hour uphill to follow.  

Rio Nambe.

Santa Fe Baldy: our destination

After several gradual switchbacks, we reached the saddle.  Some fellow hikers had informed us that the descent to Lake Katherine with impassable without snow shoes, leaving us with the summit of Santa Fe Baldy looming above us to the west and calling our names.

Kua admires the view of Deception Peak, Lake Peak, and Penitente Peak.

View from the saddle.

Santa Fe Baldy.

Our brains have a way of blocking out memories of pain.  It’s evolutionary, really.  This is why people go on to have more children after giving birth to their first.  This is why people go back for a left total knee arthroplasty after having their right knee replaced a year ago.  And this is why people choose to hike Baldy again, in the snow again, forgetting the difficulty of this last section.

The final climb to the 12,622’ peak is steep and challenging, and in our case, very snowy.  I found myself sinking into the snow frequently, falling down at times, stopping every few steps to catch my breath, and scrambling on all fours to reach the top.  After about 60 more minutes of steep climbing we reached the summit!

Santa Fe Baldy is the highest peak in the Santa Fe, and the views at the summit are unparalleled and very rewarding. 

What a perfect day!  I’m looking forward to hiking Wheeler Peak sometime this summer (the highest peak in New Mexico).  I need to get a few more long hikes under my belt before then but I am feeling very prepared!


  1. My husband and I live in Lubbock, TX, and are planning to go to Lake Katherine/Santa Fe Baldy this weekend (5/31/13) so we were wondering did you go to this location on 5/12/13? We had not anticipated the trails being so snowy, etc. Thanks so much for the info! -Jen (


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