The following was originally posted to the South Truchas page last year, but now it has a more appropriate home (although one could climb any/all of the Truchas Peaks from the Rio Quemado Trail) . . .
The purpose of this trip report is to supplement and update the information concerning the western approach to the Truchas Peaks. The Española R.D. has made some nice improvements at the Rio Quemado trailhead and on the trail itself, and I found the Forest Service to be very helpful in answering questions concerning the route to the trailhead. Having said that, there are some important things of note: (1) the road to this trailhead is not the trailhead located near Borrego Mesa Campground as described on the Santa Fe N.F. website (referred to as the “Quemado Creek” trailhead), rather, it is accessible via the road from the town of Truchas, east through the Land Grant (described in the “Getting There” section of this web page); (2) because this road crosses the Land Grant, if we want to continue to have access, it is imperative to seek permission in advance from either the President or VP of the Land Grant Association (the Forest Service has the contact information); (3) there is a confusing maze of roads in this area, so using a map to get to the trailhead is basically useless – better to ask the Forest Service for detailed directions; (4) this road is quite rough and a high clearance vehicle is advisable; (5) there are only two spaces available to park at the actual trailhead, and if it’s full, there is nowhere to turn around and one would have to reverse quite a ways, so it may be best to just use one of the few pullout spots on the left side of the road within the last ½ mile from the trailhead; and (6) vandalism to cars appears to have subsided and the problem may have never been as extensive as the Borrego Mesa area, but the entire area does have a history of problems, so take precautions. A day hike might be safer than leaving a vehicle overnight.
Once on the trail, there is a junction with Trail 153 almost immediately. Turn left, following this trail uphill (east) through dense forest, passing a spur trail to the base of Quemado Falls at approximately 3 miles into the hike (definitely worth the detour off to the right). Soon after the waterfall spur trail, the main trail climbs fairly steadily, passing a “directional” cairn, and proceeding right (south), there are a few nice overlooks. After this point, the trail then enters a series of meadows and becomes hard to follow at times. From here, the best directions are to simply follow the creek drainage east for a ways, then south, wrapping around the base of the north and then east slopes of Middle Truchas Peak, into an alcove. Eventually, the trail will end along with the trees at a talus field at the base of the west face of North Truchas (actually, the face lies between North Truchas and “Medio” Truchas). A series of switchbacks will appear on a long scree slope. Follow these switchbacks all the way to the saddle (approx. 12,500’ or so). At the saddle, Truchas Lakes come into view to the southeast. One has the option of ascending Medio south along a steep exposed knife edge to eventually connect up with Middle Truchas or South Truchas, or to head north up to North Truchas.
On this particular trip, North Truchas was the option taken. There is a very faint trail that descends the east slope of the saddle a bit, then traverses toward the northeast, and ultimately fades away. At this point, simply hike up the mostly grassy slope, and at the false summit, there is a faint trail following the ridge line to the top of North Truchas.