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Weekend Backpacking Trip to Serpent Lake (Pecos)

This trip will take us to lightly visited Serpent Lake in the Pecos Wilderness. This lake (and a 2nd smaller one) sits in the middle of a large, grassy meadow (11,500 ft) with several high peaks (slightly under 13,000 ft) surrounding the basin. We've seen a large herd of elk around the lakes in the past and bighorn sheep up on the ridge above the lakes.  We'll take the Alamitos Trail #19 from the parking area at the trailhead all the way to the trail spur that drops us down to the lakes. We'll have the option of a day hike up to the summits of two surrounding peaks (Jicarita at 12,835 ft and an unamed peak at 12,828). 

You will be able to RSVP for this trip starting April 1, 2013

Please Note: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release form on file with us.  This waiver covers all trips and activities so you only need to sign it once. If you have not already signed this form it can be downloaded from our "Files" section and turned in to the organizer when you arrive for the trip.

If you RSVP "Yes" for this trip please plan on attending. Please read our RSVP Policy located in our "Pages" section.

The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is May 17, 2013

Trip Dates: May 31 (Friday evening) thru June 2 (Sunday hike out)

Drive Time to Trailhead/Camp Area on Friday Night: 2.5 hours from ABQ

Camp Area Location: Near the end of Forest Road 161

Directions to Camp Area/Trailhead: Take I-25 north to Santa Fe, then US 84/285 (St Francis Exit) out of Santa Fe north into Espanola.  In Espanola you will continue "straight" through town which puts you on SR 68.  Continue on SR 68 approx. 22 miles and turn right onto SR 75.  Go approx. 17 miles and you will come to Penasco and the junction with SR 518 where you will turn right and continue down SR 518. Continue approx 13 miles on SR 518 and look for Forest Rd 161 where you will turn right. Continue down Forest Rd 161 for 4.5 miles and you'll come to a large parking area at the end of the road. This Forest Rd is gravel so a passenger car can easily make it.  Our camp is about 100 yards from the parking area on the other side of the creek.  The trail to our camp is obvious, just follow the trail/old dirt road past the barricade.  You'll find us off to the right of the trail.

Trip Rating: Moderate (day hike could be difficult with elevation gain)

Trail Length: 4 miles Saturday, 4 miles Sunday (8 miles total) *With option for day hikes to peaks

Elevation Gain: 1,080 ft to lake and 2,115 ft to Jicarita Peak (day hike)

Elevation Range: 10,720 ft to 11,800 ft (to lake) and an additional 1,335 ft to Jicarita Peak summit

Expected Temps at 11,800 ft: Highs around 60, lows around 40

Dogs Allowed

Notice: Disregard the info/map directions link as it is incorrect!

Contact Bob F with any questions!

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  • Debbie

    I think this was a 5 star trip the people were nice and the hike to Jicarita peakwas awsome!

    1 · June 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Had a great time, the dogs are exhausted, and I'm looking forward to the next trip;)

    June 3, 2013

  • Derrick

    I knocked a couple stars off. 1. there was snow. 2. it was not in the description not to wear sandals. 3. it was smokey. 4. it got kind of cold. other than that great trip. But i suppose that only leaves 1 star left.

    June 2, 2013

    • Bob F

      You're a panty waist.

      June 2, 2013

  • Cynthia

    Great to meet y'all. I had great time! Thanks to everyone.

    June 2, 2013

  • Bonita

    This was a wonderful trip! I really enjoyed getting to meet new folks - great group!! :-)

    June 2, 2013

  • Jon

    Great trip, and lots of fun people!

    June 2, 2013

  • Bob F

    Really fun trip!

    June 2, 2013

  • Rick M.

    Nice trip Bob. Nice hiking with everyone, both new friends and old.

    June 2, 2013

  • Daniel

    Bob thank for organizing this trip.

    June 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I so wish I could join :( Maybe next time.

    May 30, 2013

  • Cynthia

    I will also be arriving in the morning, spending the eve in Santa Fe. It is about a hour and a half drive from SF, right? I will probably be moving kind of slow on the hike up, due to an upper back injury I am still healing from. Slowpokes welcome to keep pace with me :)

    May 30, 2013

    • Bob F

      Don't worry, we won't leave you behind!

      May 30, 2013

  • Bob F

    After getting a few more snow reports we're good to go for this weekend! With the warm weather the snow in the higher elevations has been melting rapidly. The Powderhorn SNOTEL site (near Taos) reported a 14" decrease in snow depth over the past 7 days. They're down to 17" of snow and this was the last site reporting any snow still on the ground. Obviously there is still substantial snow depths on the north facing slopes, but that won't be an issue for our trip. Weather is looking good and looking forward to a great trip!

    May 28, 2013

    • Derrick

      in other words if there is snow bob gets to carry all our packs!

      May 28, 2013

    • Bob F

      Sure, why not.......

      May 28, 2013

  • Bob F

    We'll plan on leaving camp at 9:00 am Saturday morning.

    May 28, 2013

  • Derrick

    not coming up until Saturday morning. what's the launch time?

    May 28, 2013

  • Debbie

    I would be glad to carpool and can leave any time on Fri.

    May 27, 2013

  • Craig

    Driving 280 miles (round trip) solo seems like a non-optimal solution. If anyone's interested in carpooling from ABQ, lemme know, eh.

    May 25, 2013

  • Bob F

    I'll get a better idea on the trail conditions after Memorial Day. In the meantime what I'm hearing is Serpent Lake and the peaks above (12,000 ft +) are vitually void of snow (so no snow camping)while the shaded areas in the trees still could have some 2 or 3 ft of snow. Whether this snow is on the trail or not is the question. But, even if there is snow on the trail today it could very well be gone by May 31. In looking at the SNOTEL site all but one of their reporting stations in the higher terrains (the one's closest to the northern Pecos) reported 0" of snow, and one of those stations at 11,445 ft lost it's last 16" of snow over the past 7 days. So I think this trip looks very doable at this point in time.

    May 22, 2013

    • Eric K.

      SNOTEL. First I have heard of this. I checked it out. Cool! The sensors confirmed the reports we had been getting from the Taos area near tree line. To bad there are no sensors at tree line in the north Pecos to see how it matches that report.

      May 22, 2013

  • Derrick

    ill just plow a path in that snow. there really wasnt much snow on the high peaks in the pecos a couple weeks ago. and nothing up to id say about 11000 ft

    May 21, 2013

    • Eric K.

      Here is a link to a trip report from the northern part of the Pecos Wilderness. http://www.backpackin­......

      May 22, 2013

    • Eric K.

      Here is an excerpt from that 5/21/2013 trip report: "...we headed up from Espianola to Trampas TH. It was smooth sailing until ~10k'...serious postholing all the way to the lake...slow going, doubling our time, I would say. After lunch at the frozen Trampas Lakes we set a bearing..."

      May 22, 2013

  • Bob F

    The 4 mile hike takes us to the lake.

    May 21, 2013

  • Bob F

    I can't believe there would be any snow at Serpent Lake or on the trail there. It sits in a big sunny meadow. I'll get a report in the next couple of days.

    May 21, 2013

  • Cynthia

    Wow. That is a LOT of snow. Bob, any comment on that? I am not prepared for snow camping, honestly. I've never camped in snow and I don't think I can hike with my backpack full through much of it.

    May 21, 2013

  • Amey

    Darn! :( ...and the fact that there's one spot left just adds to my jealousy.

    1 · May 21, 2013

  • Alan S.

    From a report I got last night from a friend visiting Williams Lake, too much snow. 3-5 ft. at 11,200 ft. elevation there. So at 11,500 ft. and further north, I'm postponing getting in there.
    Sorry for the late reversal.

    May 21, 2013

  • Ilene

    Does the 4 mile hike in get us to Serpent Lake?

    May 20, 2013

  • Keith Schuyler D.

    Work conflict. :-(

    May 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    We also have 2 well behaved labs. Looking forward to this trip;)

    April 1, 2013

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