At 12,643 feet, Vallecito Mountain is New Mexico's 15th highest ranked peak. Vallecito Mountain sits on the southern boundary of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness about 1.5 miles southwest of Lake Fork Peak, and can be seen from the road leading to the Taos Ski Valley (NM-150) and from the top of the ski area. The southern slopes of the mountain are on the Taos Pueblo land, so the public access is restricted to the northern slopes and the northwest/southeast ridges involving long approach and lots of elevation gain. All these factors ensure that the mountain sees a very few ascents. The summit of Vallecito Mountain provides solitude with astonishing views of the Southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains and neighboring Rio Grande Valley.
The easiest way to reach Vallecito Mountain is by ridge traverse from Lake Fork Peak (blue line, 4.6 miles/2,100 ft. elevation gain RT). Lake Fork Peak can be climbed from Williams Lake TH (see TH information) via Kachina Peak routes [Kachina Lift Route (red line, 5 miles/3,300 ft. elevation gain RT) and Taos Ski Upper Ridge Route (green line, 4.6 miles/2,200 ft. elevation gain RT to Taos Ski Patrol HQ)], or via Williams Lake routes [Lake Fork East Ridge Route, NE Face Route and SE Face Route (black lines, 6-7 miles/3,000 ft. elevation gain RT]. The shortest route from Williams Lake TH to the summit of Vallecito Mountain (Kachina Lift Route+Lake Fork Peak-Vallecito Mountain Traverse) is about 9.6 miles round trip with 5,400 ft. elevation gain.
The access routes enter wilderness area. Wilderness regulations apply. No permits are required for day-hikes or overnight backpack trips.
The southern slopes and the southwest ridge of Vallecito Mountain are on the private land (Taos Pueblo Grant).
When to Climb
June through October is considered the best time to climb. Late July-August are the typical monsoon season, with regular afternoon thunderstorms. Winter ascents are possible although avalanche conditions could be extreme, especially on the east side of Lake Fork Peak.