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Wheeler Peak via Bull of the Woods Trail

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(125)
Carson National Forest
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Wheeler Peak via Bull of the Woods Trail is a 14.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 14.5 mi Elevation gain 4,550 ft Route type Out & Back

Dog friendly

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Forest

Lake

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Snow

Waypoints (1)
  • 1

    Junction to Wheeler Peak trail 90

    36.61171, -105.42884

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (125)
Photos (384)
Recordings (104)
Completed (252)
Arvind Mohan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 07 2020
Hiking

Great, scenic views all thru. Took the Williams lake trail up to Wheeler peak and Bull of the woods on the way back.

Sarah Welch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 01 2020
Hiking

We hit the trail at 8:45, summited by 12:10, relaxed for 50 min and were back at the car by 3:45. Not a lot of shade, windy in spots, easy to follow. The other trail looked way busier. Overall beautiful, challenging hike that made for a great day.

View Sarah's Recording
Andrew Gordon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail to Wheeler Peak. It’s best to do Bull up and Williams down (not the other way around). You can do Bull both up and down but it will be a pretty long hike with jello legs on the way back down. The views between the two routes are very different and equally scenic. This route has more forests, the basin, streams, and views off to the west. The lake route has views of the lake (of course) and the alpine areas on the west slopes of Wheeler. This is a stunning place to hike with snow and a relatively safe route in the winter (compared to Williams, which has a higher avalanche risk). If you’re a fan of marmots you can’t get much better than this in the summer.

Maureen L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
Hiking

I didn't take this route out and back, but wanted to pop over and make a note that next time I absolutely would take this route instead of doing the Williams Lake side at all (the loop version). My full review of the loop is over on that page in the AllTrails app, but this Bull of the Woods side was so, so breathtaking, and much, much more enjoyable than the more brutalizing and much more crowded Williams Lake side. FWIW. :)

Jonathan Dodson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 19 2020
Hiking

One of my favorite hikes. Only a little snow that was East to get around. The views are incredible. I did the out and back because of the views. Several streams along the way to let my dog drink. Also had a bottle of water and a bowl for the peak.

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Allen Harris
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 12 2020
HikingMuddySnow

Summited Wheeler Peak on 6/10/2020. The weather was perfect and the hike was strenuous, but fantastic. Took Williams Lake Trail up, and it had very little snow, but there were a couple of patches at higher elevations. Took the longer, more scenic Bull of the Woods Trail on the descent. There was still considerable snow in places along the trail, mostly in the woods, and this resulted in difficulty finding the trail again once we crossed the snow, but all in all it was a great day.

Ashish P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 31 2020
MuddyScrambleSnow

Went May 29. Went up Williams and came down Bull of the Woods. Good news is that there is no snow on the peaks and very little exposure in the areas with snow. Bad news is that the alpine portions at high altitudes have 6ft+ of snow so expect lots of postholing. There are no tracks either so you're wandering in the woods trying to forge a path. If you have a GPS track to follow it is not so bad. I probably wasted an hour+ trying to find my way through the deep snow. Take a good pole and good shoes.

Brooke Mo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Mar 14 2020
HikingSnow

Very difficult trail to do without snow shoes. Crazy elevation gain from the bottom. Good views around 1.5 miles up. Took us an 2 hours to hike 1.8 miles up but only 45 minutes to hike down. Bring lots of water and prepare to take lots of breaks

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William Day
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Feb 16 2020
HikingSnow
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Mark Dismore
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Oct 16 2019
HikingRocky

We took William's Lake Trail up and Bull of the Woods down. The extra length of Bull of the Woods trail started making the descent very laborious. A ton of steep declines and rocky. The trail is beautiful but very long. I couldn't imagine going up that way, the amount of elevation gain on Bull of the Woods as opposed to William's Lake trail is something to seriously consider. An easier and faster overall hike is definitely William's up and down.

Brian Lino
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Oct 14 2019
Hiking

Beauty of a hike

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Michael Osterhaus
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Sep 26 2019
Hiking

Beautiful day on the trail with amazing views along the way. We did “Bull of the Woods” on the ascent, and did the descent to Lake Williams and back to the Taos ski valley parking lot. Totally recommended!!

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Travis Michaud
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Sep 25 2019
Hiking

Did the hike today and it took me a little less than 5 hours. I suggest bringing at least 5 liters of water along with electrolyte packers. I brought 3.75 liters with today, and ran out 2 hours before I finished. Expect steap climbs to start in the beginning and to continue throughout the hike. Very gratifying once you reach Mt Walter and the Peak. Definitely recommend starting early in the day. Does get pretty cold at the top. my main takeaway was that I should have brought more water.

Herb Ehrmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Sep 11 2019
HikingMuddyRockyScramble

Goal was to go to Bull-of-the woods peak and maybe on to Frazier Peak. Trailhead is easy to find and starts a rapid climb initially, crossing several horse trails. Because of the rain earlier in the day some parts were a little muddy and the flat rock faces were slippery.. At about the .5 mile point, you have to cross the creek either via rocks or logs. In general if you tend to the right, you will stay on the trail. As you approach the saddle between Bull of the woods and Frazier, there is a trail that will allow you to reach the peak. There is a lot of loose rocks, so make sure you have sure footing. I abandoned the hike to Frazier because of nasty weather rushing in with high winds and icy precipitation. Didn’t get a chance to eat on top of the peak, but enjoyed the views. Trail is passable with dogs.would not bring young children unless they are accustomed to following instructions. Great hike despite the weather.

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Kelly McCloskey-Romero
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Sep 04 2019
Hiking

This is the most beautiful and grueling hike I’ve ever done. Despite having grown up in Albuquerque and coming to Taos regularly throughout my life, I never attempted this challenge, but I’m so glad I finally have. The first mile or so up to the Williams lake turnoff is pretty moderate, enough to get used to the elevation. Then you emerge from forest into some incredible views and steeper ascents. Still not bad for the first 3/4 of the hike. Then it gets really tough. Rocks everywhere and marmots that scurry in and out of them. The grade steadily increases and I had to stop often to catch my breath and give my legs a break. I saw a lot of people (Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2019) but some of that might have been because it’s so exposed. It’s doable, just slow. Loved having a pole to lean on. After a while you can see the peak so that’s motivating. There’s a pole up there and some people. It takes a while to reach it even after it’s in view. Once you’re at the top it’s exhilarating. The views are 360 degrees. I sat and ate my sandwich and could see thunderstorms in the distance. Luckily I never encountered rain on the hike. It didn’t appeal to go back down that steep part and I was staying in the ski valley anyway so I went back through Bull of the Woods. It was considerably longer, 13 miles on my Apple Watch for the whole loop, but I loved the way back. Views in every direction, gorgeous meadows, solitude. So many fewer people on this side. Mostly you’re on meadows above the tree line and then you dip into some forest and come out again. It’s easy to get off the trail at that part and I was grateful to have all Trails to orient me back. By the time I hit the pasture I was pretty fried. Lots of signs for mountain bike trails but I didn’t see any bikers. The last part was rough because I was so tired, and hard on the knees. It started to drizzle them but I was almost home and exhilarated so I didn’t much care. I left at 8 am and didn’t get back to the ski valley around five. My watch clocked 7 and a half hours of actual hiking. Lots of rests made this enjoyable and possible for me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did. And I loved it. Excited to do it again. I think I’d leave earlier in the morning to try to miss that late rainfall. Maybe some training would help prepare for the knees hurting but I’m not sure. This is a New Mexico treasure.

Tina Pruett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Aug 18 2019
Hiking

Loved this scenic challenging hike! Lots of variety in scenery over the 15.4 miles round trip! We opted for the longer harder hike, which of course was taxing on the body but very rewarding! We only passed a small handful of people the entire day until the last half mile when the trails merge. Great time of year for the hike, the water at river crossings were low and crossable and the temp was perfect! There were a few (mike long) sections near the top that were extremely windy though. We started at 8 am, summited at 12:15 and enjoyed at least half an hour on top taking in the views. Then downhill and back to trailhead by 4:25pm. (Both of us not in top shape or super fast hikers but we progressed slow and steady.) we brought 3-4 liters of water each and luckily a water filter too- I needed that extra water. But I tend to drink more water than most people. There was zero chance of rain and it was sunny and warm in the afternoon. We started with long sleeves pants and beanies but layers came off and tank top and pants were pleasant by afternoon- even wished I had shorts. We also wished we had brought a hammock to hangout and nap on the way down haha!

Luke Clark
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 31 2019
HikingRockyScramble
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Chris McGregor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 28 2019
Hiking

Hiked full packs into La Cal Basin and set up base camp at a beautiful site nestled in the trees against a flowing mountain stream. With a full pack, the hike into the basin is a challenge and will test your fitness. We ascended about 2500’ over five miles before descending into the basin. From there, we set out about 9:30 am to dayhike to the summit, which was around a 5.5 mile out and back. Trail is in great condition. Encountered some small patches of snow near Mount Walter. Trail was bursting with life above the treeline: flowers and daisies; birds and butterflies; chubby and docile little marmots. We didn’t spy any sheep, but talked to others who did. Views from the summit were incredible and well worth the effort to get there. If you’re dayhiking and are fit/acclimatized, this trail is a notch or two below ‘hard’ but will still test you in parts. If you’re camping and carrying a full pack, expect a tiring hike up. Also, on account of all the rain New Mexico has received this summer, there is abundant water. Oh...and on the way out don’t forget to stop at the Bavarian for a refreshing German beer and delicious food!

Christina A.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 28 2019
Hiking

My husband and I hiked to Wheeler Peak with our dog on Sunday 7/28. It was a wonderful hike on a beautiful day. We parked at the Ski Valley lot and got on the trail at 7:20 AM. The first 3 miles are a bit of a slog uphill through the trees. At 3.25 miles, you come to a gorgeous meadow. The views from there are fantastic. With so much rain/snow this year, everything is very green and the wildflowers are in bloom. It took us 3:56 to reach the summit. Be ready for some serious elevation gain! There were only a couple of small patches of snow on the trail that were easily avoidable. We saw just 2 other hikers and 2 trail runners the entire way up Bull of the Woods. However, we realized when we got to the summit that was because at least 95% of people take the Williams Lake trail up. The summit was quite crowded at 11:30 AM (> 20 people there). We ended up taking Williams Lake back and passed lots of groups still heading up. Be aware that if you do this loop, there is a ~2 mile road hike to get from one trailhead to the other. In hindsight, we should have done it the other direction, taking Williams Lake up and Bull of the Woods down. We could have gotten to the summit earlier that way and avoided many of the crowds. Still a phenomenal hike either way though. Highly recommended!

Nicholas Ghiglia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jul 25 2019
Hiking

Steep and beautiful big-tree forest. Trail head is at ski area.

Andrew Harris
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 13 2019
HikingOff trailSnow

Great trail. Hard and fun all at the same time. We parked at the Bull of the Woods / Wheeler TH and started up. That part of the trail is easy to follow. After we got past the tree line we got into some snow. We got off track from the shown All Trail route. We stayed on a trail that dropped us back down below the tree line. I would not say we got lost but it was way off from where All Trails showed. But. Within a half mile we got back on the trial. Back above the tree line and into some snow and great views. We made the summit and headed back via Williams Lake. And then walking the street back to the truck.

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Andrew Hunter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 05 2019
HikingSnow
Molli Grove
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 05 2019
HikingOff trailPrivate propertyRockySnowWashed out

I am BEAT! What an experience. First I'd like to say, although I've run a marathon and work out a reasonable amount, the elevation gain was rough. We chose this trail because it is less steep, but it was very steep which we weren't prepared for. We made it to just up the hill from Lo Cal basin and set up camp about 1/2 mile further out then we wanted for the next day to the peak. It was a beautiful spot on top of a hill, surrounded by a snow bank. The next day we left pretty early for the peak as there was a storm heading in and we wanted to get to the peak prior to the lightning and back to camp prior to the snow. Now I should say my boyfriend discouraged our going, but I wasn't ready to fail. It was steep and 3 miles took a long time. We got lost in Lo Cal basin, as the snow covers the trail so we followed the footprints in the snow and headed toward the mountain. I'm not sure how much this added to our trip. Once we got to the other side of the basin, you can't miss the switchbacks up to the top. You can't see the top though, so you just go up, up, up and just when you think you've made it... you realize it's still up. Then you get to Wheeler peak, but you have to go over the ridge to get to the tipy top! That last trek is steep, but adrenaline will get you through. One note, I lost my cell phone (and trail map) as we exited the basin and got to the switchbacks. This is important because remember when I said you lose the trail? And to add insult to injury it started to hail, hard, like a snow storm. Without my map I wasn't sure where we were or when we get back to base camp. Luckily I was with a partner who is more experienced. We made it back to base camp at 3:15 and it rained until 9:30. We laid in our bags and tried to stay warm. It was uncomfortable, but not scary. In retrospect, I'm happy we set up base camp where we did, because we only had 4.5 miles to trek out and no uphill at all. It was cold and foggy when we left and we broke down camp in minutes. We went about a mile before we were comfortable heat. Needless to say we are exhausted! To recap: 1) set up all trails on two phones - for loss but also our batteries didn't last. Having another instance would have made me feel more safe. 2) be prepared for rain, sleet, hail - even in July. Lots were in shorts and tank tops. 3) we trekked lots of snow, we were happy we had poled and the right shoes, etc. 4) be prepared for rain and to get wet. I hiked out in my PJs as that was all that was dry and it was too cold to put wet gear back on. When all was said and done and we were down elevation about a mile, I noticed how beautiful the fog laying on the trees and how green the forest was. And I said, if you can still appreciate the beauty, you know it was a great hike! Have fun, stay safe.

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