OverviewDistance: Approximately 14-15 miles round-trip.
Elevation Gain: Approximately 4,000 feet.
Las Trampas Canyon provides one of the easiest means of access to the Truchas Peaks area, the highest mountains of the Pecos Wilderness. An approach hike through lush spruce forest leads to a spectacular ridge walk above some of New Mexico's finest alpine basins. From the summit of UN 12,900, a fun Class III ridge scramble leads to North Truchas Peak. Doable as a long dayhike, this route is possibly the only reasonable way for mere mortals to climb one of the Truchas Peaks in a day. An overnight or three-day backpack would provide more time to explore, and could facilitate a trip to the other three Truchas Peaks.
Getting ThereSee the main page for details.
ApproachHike the 5 miles to Trampas Lakes. See Approaches on the main page for details.
Once you top out on the ridge, your route is obvious. Head south on the ridgetop and straight up to the top of Sheepshead, on nice firm ground all the way. If for some reason you want to skip Sheepshead and go to UN 12,900 as fast as possible, there is an obvious game trail that countours around the peak's south side. Unfortunately this trail, so obvious on the way out, is much harder to find from the other direction. Sheepshead's southwest flanks are very loose and unpleasant in the absence of a trail.
From Sheepshead to UN 12,900, you will continue to stay more or less right on the ridge crest. Down near the saddle between the peaks, there's a series of dramatic gendarme-wannabes, little stone teeth with sheer north faces and moderate slopes in back. Skirt these to the right, or poke your head over the top occasionally to look down some lovely couloirs.
Enjoy your time on top and soak up one of the best views in New Mexico. From here you can head south across the ridge to North Truchas, head back down to the saddle and descend south to explore Rio Quemado Basin, or return the way you came.
Resist any temptation to descend via UN 12,900's northeast ridge. It is cliffy, loose, fraught with gendarmes and near-vertical gullies. I explored down as far as I could get, had a rather unpleasant time of it, and when I finally thought I might be through the crux, I was cut off very decisively and forced to return the way I came. Not recommended.