San Leonardo Lakes
Our first full day in Truchas, we decided to hike to the San Leonardo
Lakes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. We headed out of Truchas and
turned down Forest Road 207,a good,although sometimes narrow gravel
road, and drove through the small farming village of El Valle and then
on into the Carson National Forest.A short ways before the Trampas
Campground we turned off onto Forest Road 639,crossed the Rio Trampas
and drove a steep mile to our trailhead.
Be forewarned- it is obvious
that this low maintenance,dirt road turns into a muddy mess probably
even after a light rain. It was a bit of challenge even under dry
conditions. Four wheel drive is an absolute necessity if there is even a
forecast of rain or snow.There is a small parking area at the
trailhead and several steep berms that we initially had to hike over.The
trail is an old road at first, and perhaps people had been still using
it as such,hence the berms to prevent illegal vehicle entry into the
Pecos Wilderness.This is not a heavily traveled or maintained trail.
There was abundant downfall and many,many crossings of the little Rio
San Leonardo. When the trail finally levels out after a steep climb of
about 3 1/2 miles, we found ourselves in meadow area with the mountain
cliffs straight ahead. We also lost the trail.
After scrambling about on
what turned out be the right hill,but without finding the trail, and
entertaining some thoughts of turning back, we sensibly returned to the
meadow area to find that a sharp turn in the trail had been concealed by
large fallen fir.So remember if you run out of tread,you've probably
missed a switchback.This last part of the hike was fairly short but very
steep, and the storm clouds (and the attendant drop in temperature)
that very suddenly appeared weren't helping our mood much either.But, as
we trudged through lingering snowdrifts and the trail leveled off,the
clouds parted and the warm sun shone down,gifting us with an awe
inspiring vision of these pristine alpine lakes surrounded by massive
gray cliffs streaked with snow.
I was so glad we had persevered after
losing the trail. We lingered for awhile on the upper lake shoreline,
taking many pictures and just"drinking it all in" as they say. The hike
back seemed a little bit rougher than going up, probably because of our
very tired legs.We made it.This was my third hike to an alpine lake in
the Sangres and I can't imagine it ever getting old.
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Painting By Featured Artist MJAckley "Sunset Behind Fall Tree II"