Explore the most popular trail running trails in Carson National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hiked this trail yesterday. Was very windy and cold at the top. Snow on some parts of the trail past the treeline. Great views and well worth it!

Trail snow covered except for the last and first quarter mile or so. Hard to follow after you clear the wood line. Had trouble on the ice until I put my microspikes on. Still tough in places. Dress warm toward the top. Gusty winds. Great view. Might be best to wait until ice melts if time permits. Take plenty of water and some high energy snacks and take a meal and enjoy the view.

Easily one of the most beautiful hikes in NM! Hiked yesterday with my partner, dogs, and two children (10 and 11). The trail was heavily used, even for a Saturday. It is a steep, steady climb, but should be manageable for most. We aren't accustomed to the elevation and thus took a few more breaks than usual. This just gave us extra time to appreciate the stunning old growth forest. Reminds me of hikes in the PNW (without the rain!)

The lake itself is beautiful and surrounded by interesting alpine life. Take the time to cross over to the waterfall on the far side, it is lovely (and full of the best quality water earth provides).

We plan to return with camping gear soon :).

Hike is beautiful all the way, and what a destination!! Starts at the Taos Ski area. If we had more time, we'd probably have gone up to Wheeler Peak, but we did it the morning we were heading out of town

Beautiful hike. Awesome views, still some snow in May. Lake still icy.

Some packed snow till Williams Lake. Not bad. A little more snow from Williams to the end treeline. Slightly steep in some parts, but trail is in overall great shape. It is doable without poles. Super windy at the last few switchbacks and at the peak, but it is completely doable. Pretty runnable if you're a trail runner as well. Take some layers with you if you're going to hang out at the top, because the wind makes it cold. Views from the top definitely make it worth it.

This was an excellent loop. Up Bull of the Woods Trail to Wheeler Peak, down to Horseshoe Lake for one night camp. Back up to Wheeler and down via Williams Lake Trail back to Taos Ski Valley. Views are amazing just about every step of the way. Encountered some snow and had to posthole about three miles in on BOTW. Wheeler Peak provides 360 breathtaking views. Horseshoe Lake is very secluded and makes for a nice campsite. The climb out is a bit of workout, but the trail is well marked and traverses up the east side of Mount Walter and Wheeler Peak. The weather was mild starting out, but winds became increasingly stronger as the afternoon and evening approached. We had a front move in and had sustained 40 mph with gusts over 50 mph, which made sleeping quite difficult. The following morning, the winds continued to increase and as we approached the ridgeline of Wheeler, it sounded like a jet engine with the winds. Once on the ridge, winds were 80 mph + and it was quite dangerous trying to get down from the ridge. We ended up dropping down about 40 feet below the ridgeline and traversed the west side Wheeler until we reached Williams Lake Trail. Definitely not for the faint of heart if the winds are going to be over 50 mph. We had kept a close eye on weather before departing and all reports were indicating 40 mph winds. That was not the case when we woke the next morning and reached the ridgeline. There was still a fair amount of snow in La Cal basin and around Horseshoe, but the trails were mostly clear. Saw a ton of marmots and bighorn sheep along the way. All in all, this was a great trip and I would definitely recommend this route if you haven't done it! Departed Taos Ski Valley on BOTW at 1115 on 05/10/2018, summited at 1530 (7.5 miles), Horseshoe at 1700 (2 miles). Up at 0530, started back at 0715 to Wheeler, down Williams Lake Trail and back to Taos Ski Valley at 1100. 16.5 miles roundtrip.

This is such a great trail close to town. 5 miles is perfect for an early morning get up or and afternoon get busy trail. My friends and I do this trail often throughout the year.

hiking
15 days ago

This was an absolutely beautiful hike.

The trail was very well used, some snow still on the ground, but easily hikable.

From the parking lot it is a continuous climb, but it is not steep and most people should be able to handle the 2 miles to the lake. Once there take some time to wander around the lake, there is a waterfall about .25 miles south west from the trail that you can get to if you're a bit adventurous.

This is a must do trail if you are in the Taos area for some time.

We did the trail on May 2nd with our kids (4,6 & 7 years old). They are used to trek so it was ok for them. We took a lot of breaks with them so we got to the lake in 2 hours. It's a stunning trail! Snow remains on the trail but with hiking boots it is ok.

Hiked this April 30 after camping at Twining campsite a couple miles below (free). First part of the trail is mostly wooded with hard-packed snow and ice but not treacherous. After the wooded part there is a steep avalanche chute that serves as a shortcut or you can take switchbacks which are easier to traverse. After the wooded area the packed snow was spotty and still not treacherous - we didn’t have spikes or poles and were fine. Beautiful views rest of the way. Unfortunately it was brutally windy near the peak so we couldn’t safely complete Wheeler Peak but we were able to make it to Walters Peak which is just to the left and also a 13er. A hiker before us said he didn’t feel comfortable finishing Wheeler either. Due to the wind we didn’t hang around long and the descent was quick and easy so we finished in about 4.5 hours. Distance from the parking lot is farther than advertised, maybe closer to 9-10 miles? Definitely recommend checking out Williams Lake on the way.

Great hike, completed on 4/22. You can spend a lot of time exploring side trails and side roads, as we did which brought our round trip mileage up to 8.7 miles.

This trail starts out very steep, maybe for the first 3/4 - 1 mile is a continuous incline. Afterwards, however, it tapers off to a moderate hike.

Keep eyes out for wildlife.

Went up yesterday — Sunday April 22 — and it was classic spring hiking conditions in the mountains. Slick, icy packed snow on the trail in the morning that was mush by the afternoon. Mud, ice, and slush.

Definitely felt better with poles and microspikes. There is an avalanche chute that some had used as a shortcut. Would require ice ax / crampons but the conditions yesterday were ideal. No heavy snow loads and excellent packed snow for an alpine style ascent. I had the gear, but I opted to stick to the switchback trail.

Nothing too crazy. A nice way to spend a morning. Took me three hours up and three hours down. Worth it to stop at the lake on the way up or down. It's barely any extra hiking.

Was windy enough at the summit that I added a few layers. Didn't bother shedding any on the way down and was almost 60 when I got back to the trailhead. It was a relief to change into a t-shirt.

hiking
1 month ago

The directions to the trail head goes onto private property and they have gated the access to the trail. Best to go onto the trail at the El Nogal parking area a little further up the road off of 64.

Great moderate hike. Beautiful views.

Nice quick hike

hiking
1 month ago

great trail, fairly uphill the whole way but absolutely worth the view. you start hiking from the parking lot by some skiiers and then split left. would definitely do again but yak tracks made all the difference, bring em!!

Fantastic trail! Easy for the elevation. 3/22/18 the snow is pretty packed down, but the freeze-thaw cycle means you probably want some kind of traction like yaktracks. It's a beautiful hike in the snow - cozy forest climb that opens up to a breathtaking bowl with the frozen lake.

Great trail! Nice and quiet, with a beautiful frozen waterfall you can get behind. You follow the creek most of the way, so it was nice for my dog. I made it two miles in before it became impassible without snowshoes (3/21/18). Loved it though!

So beautiful- was looking for a trail run and this was more of a steep walk/jog for the first half uphill , then a nice, rapid downhill. Not very technical, just steep and high altitude for someone who’s been living in Texas for 5 years :)

off road driving
2 months ago

Great trail and beautiful views at the Lake. Did it in a lifted 4Runner. No problems at all. Very fun and rewarding trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked in early-march. Trail was very well marked. Snow was well packed on the trail, which was about 3-4 ft. wide. If you stumbled off of the trail, the snow would rise past your shins. Views were remarkable, even with the lake frozen. Trekking up the mountain was moderately challenging due to the elevation, the way down was a blast. Dogs loved the trail.

Did this as the loop and 164 had sections of ice and snow. There was nothing technical about the hike at all. Beautiful scenery along the way but harder to see at the peak because of denser trees. Biggest cairn ever and stone chairs let you know you made it.

hiking
3 months ago

Always a favorite trail to hike with a beautiful lake!

hiking
3 months ago

This is a great trail. Instead of attempting the steep drive in my Honda Civic, we parked in the ski valley and hiked up one of the ski runs to the trail head. Go through the ski village and head left along the chair lift. The run curves to the right and follows the river to your left. Cross the river again at the Phoenix restaurant / Kachina chair lift, and you're at the true trail head. This was about 8 miles round trip and relatively steep, but do-able even without hiking poles.

I went up at the beginning of February. Apparently there was less snow than usual for a February. This made the last stretch to the summit easier but there was still plenty of snow down below tree line and it would have been impossible without snow shoes. Bull of the Woods May be safer in winter but is is very difficult. You will need lots of time and energy.

So this ski season is non existent but that means most of the trails we love during the summer are still accessible(-ish). This trail beats you up. It is the first trailhead as you head up to TSV. Pullouts for parking are adequate.

As of this writing (Feb. 4 2018) the first 1.5 miles are well packed and great. With the warm weather I would be cautious of the multiple stream crossings as the trail zig-zags across until you hit the major ascent at about 2 miles. They are currently firm and frozen but on my descent later in the afternoon they made some not so reassuring noises as my dog and I crossed.

At about 2 miles in I was making my own tracks (well following my dogs) but the trail was fairly obvious and if you pay attention you shouldn’t lose it.

At 2 miles(-ish) in the climb really starts. Given that it is Super Bowl Sunday I had to turn around at 2.5 miles in (not gonna miss kickoff), so I can’t comment beyond that. Hope the update helps in case anyone wants a great workout during this soul crushing ski season.

Please note the distances are approximate but relatively accurate. Also, I would discourage anyone who is not acclimated to this altitude and in good shape from attempting this hike beyond 1.5 miles in.

Packed my microspikes but didn’t ever have to pull them out of my pack. Awesome hike. Insanely windy at the summit. Make sure you dress warm!

Awesome walk, wore runners and was fine, minimal snow on be trail. The lake at the end is simply stunning!

Great hike today. Beautiful views

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