Lake Peak is a craggy summit located in the Pecos Wilderness of the Santa Fe National Forest, which is part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Lake Peak is located about 20 miles from Santa Fe and is easily accessible.
The standard route--the South Ridge-- is not very technical, but a few sections require third class moves and the exposure in places keeps things interesting. The route follows a rocky ridge for about a quarter of a mile until the summit is reached, which yields awesome views of the rest of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Lake Peak can be climbed year round, but be prepared for ice and snow-plastered rock in winter.
The steep West Face of Lake Peak can also be climbed, but be prepared for fifth class climbing over loose rock in places. For winter ascents of the West Face, beware of avalanches.
As a bonus, you can also visit nearby Penitente Peak (12, 249') by continuing on the route for another hour or so. If you are feeling especially strong, you can also add a side trip to Santa Fe Baldy (12,622') for a trilogy of three 12,000+ foot peaks.
The beauty of Lake Peak is that it can easily be climbed in a day or less (4-7 hrs, car-to-car), making it an excellent training climb for bigger endeavors. For those living in Santa Fe or Albuquerque, this is the most accessible 12,000' peak.
Lake Peak is very near the Santa Fe Ski Area and is depicted on the trail map above and left of the ski area. Despite its proximity to the city, Lake Peak can barely be seen from the City of Santa Fe, so it is difficult to get a good vantage point for the Peak until you are on Raven's Ridge.
The trail head for Lake Peak (and Santa Fe Baldy) is located at the parking lot of the Santa Fe Ski area, about 20 miles or so from the Santa Fe town square. To get here from Santa Fe, take HWY 285 N/St. Francis Dr. toward the center of town. As you near downtown, St. Francis intersects Paseo de Peralta. Don't turn here, but continue on a few blocks until St. Francis intersects Paseo de Peralta a second time (P. Peralta makes a loop). Turn right on Paseo de Peralta and follow it for a couple of blocks. Turn left on Bishop Lodge Road, which is immediately after the large, pink, moorish looking church. Turn right on to Artist Road/Hyde Park Road, which winds its way up the mountain and then takes you to the base of Santa Fe Ski Area.
As you enter the parking area for the ski area, stay left where the road forks around a grove of trees. The trailhead is on your left about 100 yards past the fork in the road, near a small grey building housing the restrooms.
In winter time, when the ski area is open, the traffic directors will try to make you turn right at this fork or, worse, have you park on the side of the road a ways back. Ignore these guys and tell them you are going to the wildnerness parking area. If they give you any trouble, remember that they are only $6/hour employees of the ski area and have no authority to make you do anything.
No permits required. Check the sign at the trail head for fire restrictions. The moutain is located within the Pecos Wildnerness Area, so certain restrictions apply (i.e., no camping near creeks or trails). Check the trailhead sign or with the Forest Service for more information on these restrictions.
When To Climb
Year round. Winter and Spring ascents will require proper clothing as well as skis or snowshoes for the approach. The route is usually snow free between June and September, but beware of afternoon thunderstorms.
Camping is allowed in the Pecos Wildnerness Area. There will likely be fire restrictions during the summer; check the bulletin board at the trailhead.
Lake Peak can quite easily be climbed in a day but, for those wishing to camp along the route, several decent sites can be found on Raven's Ridge. Car camping is available at the trail head and a number of designated campgrounds a few miles down the road from the ski area, including Aspen Vista, Big Tesuque, and Hyde State Park.
For more information on the Santa Fe National Forest, visit its website by clicking here Or contact the ranger station at (505) 438 - 7840.
In winter and early spring, you can get a weather report and an idea of how much snow is on the route by clicking here to visit the Ski Area's snow report page.
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