Backpacking San Leonardo Lakes

Backpacking San Leonardo Lakes

Quick Facts:

  • Closest town: Trampas, NM
  • Trail Name: San Leonardo Lakes
  • Trailhead: 36.032806, -105.674072
  • Distance: 6 miles roundtrip from the above trailhead, 8 miles roundtrip if parking and starting from Trampas Medio Campground
  • Dog Friendly

Directions: From the town of Trampas, head east on the High Road to Taos and take a right on Forest Road 207. You’ll pass through the tiny “town” of El Valle and continue until you reach Trampas Medio Campground on the right. You will know you’re in the right place because you’ll have to cross the Trampas River to get to the campground. Immediately after crossing, there will be a small dirt parking area on the left. Smaller vehicles can park here and begin the hike, adding 1 mile each way but avoiding the bumpy dirt road up to the true trailhead. We easily made it to the true trailhead in our Subaru Crosstrek, but from sources I had previously read I got the impression that the condition of the road can greatly vary from year to year or season to season. Proceed at your own risk, especially during monsoon season!

Once you reach the true trailhead either by car or foot, the real trail (and fun) begins! The first mile is easy and flat. The second mile begins to gain elevation, and then the third mile makes up for all the elevation you didn’t gain in the first. We were warned about the last mile, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Just enjoy the beautiful streams and wildflowers along the way, and you’ll hardly notice the burning in your legs.

We hustled up the trail in hopes of making it to the lakes before sunset. Despite the slog of the last mile, we made it with about 10 minutes to spare! I took some photos of the gorgeous sunset reflecting on the smaller of the two lakes, and then we found a spot to camp for the night on the west side of the larger lake. We felt pretty lucky that there were only two other groups camping on a Saturday night! Arguably one of the best things about the New Mexico Wilderness 🙂

In the morning, we hiked half way up the chute on the east side of the larger lake to get a better view looking down. It didn’t take long and definitely paid off! You can see the route we took in the image below, as seen from the west side of the lake.

After heading back to camp and packing up, we hiked the 3 miles back to our car. On the way home, we decided to get lunch at the Rancho de Chimayo restaurant in the small town of Chimayo and it was AMAZING! Definitely recommend stopping for a meal if you’re passing through! The prickly pear lemonade was delish, and the meal includes one sopaipilla per person for dessert. Can’t say no to that after a backpacking trip!

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