Triple Peaks (again)

One year ago this month my good friend, Becky, introduced me to a hike that would become one of my favorite trails in the Santa Fe area – the Three Peaks hike, which Jaycob and I hiked a couple weeks ago (me for the second time, Jaycob for the first time).  

From the trail head at the Santa Fe ski basin, the trail begins with uphill switchbacks followed by a steady ascent (steep at times) to Raven’s Ridge, leading to the first peak – Deception Peak (12,320 ft).  The most challenging part of the hike is the first two hours, with a 2,200 ft elevation gain.  There are breathtaking views along the route to the first peak.  We were surprised to see how deep the snow was considering how summery the weather has been in town, but we were able to keep track of the path most of the time during this beginning section.

After reaching Deception Peak, we scrambled along some rough and rocky terrain to reach the highest point of the hike: Lake Peak (12,409 ft).  From here the views are spectacular in every direction – Santa Fe Baldy and Truchas to the north, the vast and beautiful Pecos Wilderness to the east, Sandia Peak to the south, and the Jemez mountains to the west.  Nambe Lake rests just below Lake Peak.

Kua and Jaycob making their way to the top of Lake Peak.

View of Nambe Lake from Lake Peak.
After a few more minutes we reached the third and final peak – Penitente Peak (12,249 ft).  Tucked further back from the ski basin, this peak is not usually visible from town.  Standing on this peak made the world seem so far away, as if we were the only people in the wilderness.

Kua admires the view.

The return route loops back to the Winsor Trail and crosses through the Puerto Nambe clearing.  This section would typically be straightforward, but the snow cover was immense and we lost track of the trail several times.  At one point we were perplexed whether to retrace our steps or continue on through the snow in the general direction of Puerto Nambe in order to find the trail, but eventually we found it again and we were not lost for long.

The trail ends with a gradual uphill through the aspen trees (my favorite section of the Winsor trail) followed by downhill switchbacks to the ski basin.

This is one of my favorite hikes because of the beauty of the entire trail and the stunning views from all three peaks.  I am thankful we hiked this trail when we did because as of this week, the entire Pecos Wilderness is closed due to a 10,000 acre forest fire north of Pecos.  Wildfires are a natural and frequent occurrence in this area but nonetheless heartbreaking for hikers, outdoorsy folks, and most of all those who lost their homes.  We all hope the fire will be 100% contained very soon.


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