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Question about hiking in New Mexico: Spirit Lake and Beyond

I have a brother visiting from Oregon and wishes to visit NM and hike.  He is an avid hiker but at much lower elevations. I am a beginner hiker but have been training here in ABQ since December.  I was looking at the Windsor Trail to Spirit Lake and possibly Katherine Lake as well. Can anyone tell me if this would be a good choice to show my brother NM mountains?  We are looking for a 2+ night hike.

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Also curious since my son recently moved to NM and we would like to do something similar.

@PJPearson  (and @OldGuyot ) Thanks for reaching out!

We connected with our team in New Mexico for some insight, here's what they had to say:

This is a challenging question to answer! Elevation changes can affect people differently and fitness level alone isn't necessarily a good indicator of how someone will respond to altitude. The Winsor National Recreation Trail is incredibly stunning with some wonderful vistas, but the trail starts off at 10,300 ft at the Aspen Basin Trailhead and you'll ascend to 10,900 ft in the first mile, eventually climbing to 11,700 ft if you extend all the way to Lake Katherine. This is a pretty strenuous hike with a full pack even if you're acclimated to Albuquerque!

If you're able to take your brother on a couple of shorter day hikes beforehand (the Sandias in your backyard are a wonderful training ground), you may have a better idea of how he'll be affected by the elevation as well as giving him some time to acclimatize before your overnight trip. If you're unable to do that, here are a couple of other options worth checking out:

  • The Sand Pedro Parks Wilderness just north of Santa Fe has lots of camping options and parts of the Continental Divide Trail.
  • The Middle Fork Trail in the Gila Wilderness has incredible views and rugged terrain, but without the extreme elevations you'll find on the Winsor Trail. One thing to bear in mind is that the Middle Fork has lots of river crossing so it's better done in the summer.

Hope this helps, have a great trip!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

A useful resource is the hiking project

or for all the trails etc. in NM..

You have to sign up to see the trail details but it has a good list of New Mexico trails with interactive maps and elevations.

The trail descriptions are user sourced I think.