The steep and craggy Sangre de Cristo Mountains—far from any major metro areas—serve up plentiful alpine surprises at the Rockies' off-the-radar southern end. Tag 13,102-foot South Truchas Peak—the highest point in the range—plus West Truchas and Middle Truchas on this 14-miler.
Start from the Quemado Creek trailhead on the western slopes (requires a high clearance vehicle and permission from the Truchas Land Grant; get trailhead directions when obtaining permission, 505-351-4250). Hike 1,900 vertical feet and five miles up the rough Quemado Creek Trail to a high-alpine basin above a small waterfall, below the west face of North Truchas Peak. Camping? Find a good spot near the basin's southern wall. Scramble routes linking the triple crown are obvious; climb 13,066-foot Middle Truchas, then South Truchas, then 13,024-foot North Truchas.
Alternative: Make it a long weekend by starting from Jack's Creek Campground, on NM 63 north of Pecos, for a 25-mile round-trip on Trails #25 and #257 (and add Pecos Baldy Lake to the itinerary). --Steve Howe, howephoto.us
PERMIT: Permission to enter and pass through the land grant should first be obtained from the land grant. Contact Land Grant President Wilford Romero at (505) 351-4250.
MORE INFO: Santa Fe National Forest, (505) 757-6121; fs.fed.us/r3/sfe
- Distance: 22.5
Location: 36.000247, -105.692468
Rio Quemado Trailhead
Location: 35.978892, -105.632408
North Truchas Peak
Location: 35.972067, -105.650282
Middle Truchas Peak
Location: 35.962498, -105.644982