Thursday, August 29, 2013

Raven's Ridge to Deception Peak

Hike Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult 
Hiking Distance (Round Trip): 6(ish) miles
Time (Round Trip): 4 to 5 hours
Elevation: 10,252 feet to 12,340 feet

Our friend, Ciara, came to visit us in Santa Fe this past weekend. Ciara and I had to keep ourselves occupied on Saturday while Allyson worked, so obviously we decided to get a little "work" done ourselves. We had a couple of hikes in mind, but decided on a 6 mile hike that gained 2,500 feet in elevation. We figured we should be as tired as Allyson was after her 10-12 hour work day, and we were! 

The hike to Deception Peak is often written up as part of longer hikes to other peaks, such as Lake and Penintente. A couple of notes: 1. The hike up to Deception Peak is strenuous because of the insane elevation gain and maybe because of the small amount of scrambling you have to do over a small boulder field. But honestly, it's a great hike with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views. 2. To continue on to Lake Peak means some very uncertain footing and loose rock with steep cliffs, so better with good shoes on and maybe some hiking poles. Because the weather was really questionable on Saturday and we were being very conscious of the possibility of thunderstorms, we decided not to go on to Lake Peak. Regardless, we were very satisfied with our hike to Deception Peak. 

The hike starts at Winsor Trail, along with many other hikes heading into the Pecos Wilderness. Parking is plentiful at the end of Hyde Park/Ski Basin Road. When driving into the parking lot, the Winsor Trail is on the left by a couple bathrooms. Once on the trail, we headed north (right) on Winsor Trail and began the infinite climb up. 

Follow the Winsor Trail to the right.

Plenty of shade on this hike until reaching the ridge right before Deception Peak. Lots of beautiful aspens on the first part of the trail. 

At the fence (the Pecos Wilderness boundary), we turned right rather than going through the fence and followed the trail that goes along the fence. This trail is Raven's Ridge but is not marked with a sign. You cannot get lost on this part of the trail. We just stayed next to the fence until it ended at the first terrific view. 

 Follow the fence.

Once we took some time to catch our breath and enjoy the first of the views, we backtracked a couple steps and continued on the trail that takes off to the right (if standing on the trail with the fence to the left). There were some great views out over Santa Fe and farther from this section of the hike.

Soon, we came across a small boulder field, which we found our way through by following the rock piles people have built to mark the trail. This part isn't tricky. As long as you head up, you'll find the trail.

The next section of the hike wasn't very strenuous. The ground was nice and soft and there were lots of beautiful trees providing shade. There was some increase in elevation but the trail had some flat or even declining sections as well.

You can see Santa Fe Baldy behind us. This is a must-do hike that we haven't done yet, but definitely plan on it. 

Nambe Lake is another moderate-in-length hike and a fairly popular one. We could see people (very little people) down at the lake from this vista point. 

Looking up at the ridge to Deception Peak

The trail we just came up.

We continued up the trail and then took a left to follow a not-so-well marked trail to Deception Peak. We could see the peak, so there was no chance of getting lost. But the trail isn't really that necessary up on top, so I think a lot of people kind of make their own. There were some rock piles to guide us. 

This is the view from Deception Peak. It's called Deception Peak because Lake Peak is the real peak. Lake Peak is the one in the immediate foreground of this picture. The trail to that peak goes down and around the right side of the peak. We began the trail but the clouds were looking quite ominous and the trail isn't easy. We didn't like the idea of racing back to escape lightening/thunderstorms on treacherous trail. Maybe on a clearer day I'll brave that section of the trail. 

You can kind of make out the trail down and around the right of Lake Peak. 

The view south from Deception Peak

After spending some time on the peak, we turned around and went back the way we came. We felt challenged and our knees were definitely feeling the pretty constant downhill, but this was one of the better hikes I've been on. I really enjoyed the level of difficulty, the views, and the trail. Also, because this isn't one of the most talked about trails in the area, there were only a handful of people out there (even on a Saturday). We felt like we had it to ourselves! Except for the birds of course....this guy in the picture below really wanted to share our lunch with us!

Ciara took this panoramic shot of me at the top of Deception Peak. 


  1. Thanks for the great pictures. My 10 year old is doing this hike on Wednesday with her camp group and was a bit worried. I think your blog and pics will help!

  2. Aw that's great! I'm glad the pictures helped. It's so beautiful out there and so cool your 10 year old will get to experience it! Hope she enjoys it!

  3. Phyllis from santa frSeptember 11, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    Thanks for your pictures and directions, I went with seasoned hikers yesterday, a different route (up a ski trail) and will want to do it again via windsor, also the top was socked in and I can share your pictures for the best to come