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Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

Huntsville, Alabama
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Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

How far is it from Puerto Nambe to a reliable water source on Sante Fe Baldy? I am looking at doing it as a backpack hike (camp at Puerto Nambe) but finding conflicting information on how far it would be to get water.

4 replies to this topic
Los Alamos, New...
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1. Re: Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

Probably not the best forum for this Q, but I'll try anyway. What time of year? Makes a big difference. During runoff season -- which unfortunately is largely done because it's been so dry this winter -- streams and snow are available over most of the upper third of the Winsor Trail, which I assume is the one you're using. Late in the summer you may have to leave Puerto Nambe and hike down into one of the drainages for a mile or so. Not sure what availability is like on the opposite (east) side as I've never come into Puerto Nambe that way.

Do NOT assume that the water you find this way is potable! Giardia infestations are common in nominally "wild" water in northern New Mexico, and you should be prepared to treat the water.

Huntsville, Alabama
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2. Re: Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

Sorry, should've specified this trip will be mid-June. We would be coming from what I believe is the Winsor trail, the route from the Santa Fe Ski Basin parking lot. We would definitely have a water filter so no worries there. I am mostly trying to be sure we aren't going to be 2.5-3 miles away from water if we camp at Puerto Nambe. Walking a little over a mile shouldn't be a problem, is it pretty much certain that it would be less than 1.5 miles to a water source?

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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3. Re: Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

Chances of finding reliable water sources may be difficult this summer.

This winter has been extremely dry, no real snow. It is possible that the forest service will close the mountains if we don't get any moisture. Already there are fire restrictions. https:/… We are at Stage 1 which means:

"Under Stage I restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided for use. Campfires are prohibited at all dispersed camping sites.

Stoves, lanterns or heaters fueled by propane or other liquefied petroleum fuels may be used in areas cleared of flammable materials within three feet of the device, if they meet manufacturer’s safety specifications and have on/off switches.

Smoking is allowed only in enclosed vehicles or buildings and developed recreation sites. Fireworks are always prohibited on all national forests."

Los Alamos, New...
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4. Re: Water sources on Santa Fe Baldy hike?

CA's closure point is a good one. Check before you start out to make sure you can hike this trail at all. We are looking at an absolute rip-snorter of a fire season and it isn't getting better. This said, PN sits above significant drainages on both sides of the saddle. Water is very likely to be available within a mile or so -- horizontally. The big effort to get to it may be the vertical. Santa Fe Baldy looks like a big lump from the valley, and in the north-south direction, it basically is. The dropoffs into the drainages, however, are steep, and you may have to lose quite a bit of elevation to reach water if the streams up high are unusually uncooperative. Lake Katherine, on the east side, is certainly within your 1.5-mile range, and certainly will have water, but getting to it is a PAIN. (It's also a pretty foul excuse for water, but as you say, you'll have a filter.) That's why I didn't mention it in my first reply -- but it can be done.

If you're not doing so already, recommend you check directly with Santa Fe National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/santafe ) for up-to-date info on both fire closures and water supply. Calls to one of the district stations (numbers in the web site) will probably be more informative than the site itself.

Final note: Puerto Nambe is kind of an "all or nothing" proposition. If it's suitable for backpacking at all, you'll probably be sharing it with a goodly number of other people. It's spacious enough that you can tolerate that (or at least I did, and I don't like crowds when hiking/backpacking), but don't expect complete privacy, water or no water.

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