Summary: A steep climb up to a beautiful lake. You hike through dense pine forest, grassy meadows and some tall aspens. The trail is in good shape but the steep grade makes it a challenge. However, the hard work pays off. Lake Katherine is breathtaking, nestled in some steep cliffs under Santa Fe Baldy. If you have the energy you can continue all the way to the top of Baldy. If not you can just relax along side the lake, take a swim or try your luck at catching some of the trout that inhabit the lake. There are some good campsites around the lake. I am told that it can get crowded on the weekends but there was nobody up there when I was there. If you are not up for such a long, steep hike there are other lakes along the trail to Lake Katherine. These include Stewart Lake and Spirit Lake. The trails to these lakes are well marked. The guidebook says that the hike is 16 miles, TOPO! says it is 10. I think the guidebook is closer.
Trailhead: From Pecos, drive north on NM 63 to Cowles. In Cowles, turn left and cross the Pecos River. Look for the sign for the Windsor Creek Trailhead on FR 121. Drive about 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (Lat:35.81597 Lon:-105.67687)
Trail Guides for Lake Katherine:
Hiking New Mexico
by Laurence Parent (Falcon)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Pecos- Las Vegas Ranger District, P.O. Box 429, Pecos, NM 87552 (505) 757-6121
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Will Brown, who has posted 4 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Barton on 8/31/2015
The summary is wrong. There is no camping at Lake Katherine any longer. We were accosted by a "volunteer forest ranger" who never identified himself to us who said we were camping illegally. He used profanity at us and said he was going to call it in with his walkie talkie. All the way back to our vehicle, we thought about a possible SWAT team waiting for us at the trail head. Won't be going to the Pecos again.
Reviewed by Steve on 3/2/2013
I have been to this beautful lake many times over the last 20 years. Bring fly and spinning rod as the trout are fickle. My favorite spot on Earth.
Reviewed by GTS on 7/10/2012
Hiked to Lake Katherine from Cowles NM. Took me and my buddie 7 hours to get there, however we were going at a snails pace. Hike was pretty easy going till the last 2.5 miles. From there it was all switch backs and elevation. Well worth the trip. Beautiful place, be sure to pack cold weather gear it got down to the mid 40's over the weekend of July 07 2012. Bring a fishing rod the fish were going crazy eating any moth that landed in the water. No need to pack tons of water, bring a filter as there are plenty of streams to fill up along the way.
Reviewed by Scott on 7/14/2011
This is going way back, but two friends and I drove from Houston Tx at the end of August, 1972 to hike up to Lake Katherine. We drove all night in an old convertable VW, got to Cowles at 2 PM and immediately started to hike. Just dumb kids on last trip before college. Camped somewhere on the hike in, made it to lake next morning. We took only can of Crisco, some flour, some rice and a can of chili. We thought we would catch plenty of trout, but none were caught until the 4th day, our last. We got very hungry and made ridiculous fried flour balls. It raINED every night and we were soaked and cold. What a trip, dedicate this to Jimmy Tubbs, deceased.
Reviewed by Don T. on 8/29/2010
Attempted to knock this out on 8/27/10 from the Winsor TH. Took the #254 trail to the #251 as we approached Katherine. We were a bit over our heads , but the trails were in great shape and were well marked with what appeared to be new signs. I had it at 17.5 miles on my Garmin Oregon 450. Wish I had a topo in it though, because as it turned out we came up a bit short. I hope to try it from the ski area if we return on a future trip. Plenty of water in the creeks we passed and enjoyed the variety of mushrooms we spotted along the way.
Reviewed by joe on 8/3/2010
I expected better fishing but i think because I went late in July the fish have already had their fill on moths. The fishing would have probably been better early July. The hike wasnt to bad from the ski resort. I would be interested in the total elevation gain difference from Pecos side. Has to be one of the prettiest places on earth.
Reviewed by Charlie on 2/8/2009
Bring snow shoes if you go in the winter! My girlfriend and I had to give up the hike due to knee deep snow on trail 254 yesterday (2/8/09) The area is amazing and I am going back.
Reviewed by Phil on 9/8/2008
Did a day hike to here on Sept 6th of 2008. This is one of the most beautiful places you can go in the area. We did not see anyone else on the hike up and only a few people at the lake itself when we got there. My hiking partner and I are not experienced hikers and we underestimated the difficulty of this hike but it is well worth it. There was no snow or ice present but it was at least in the 40s in the afternoon so it is a good idea to make sure you have a jacket/pants any time you go. I am really looking forward to making this hike again and spending a day or two in the area instead of having to leave after only an hour in order to get out by dark.
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Keys: New Mexico Hiking, New Mexico Trails, New Mexico Hikes, San Miguel County Hiking, San Miguel County Trails, San Miguel County Hikes