Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail

HARD 156 reviews
#1 of 30 trails in

Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail is a 7.9 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 offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2979 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

camping

fishing

fly fishing

hiking

skiing

snowboarding

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

snow

The New Mexico highpoint.

hiking
11 days ago

Fantastic experience! The hike from the trailhead to the lake is a pleasant stroll through the forest that includes streams and waterfalls. The trail is well marked and impeccably maintained. From the lake to the summit, one encounters seemingly endless switchbacks. The terrain varies from rock to dirt to snow and the intensity ranges from moderate to challenging. Once the saddle at the top of the climb is achieved, one is treated to an entirely new landscape of spectacular mountains on the other side. Several peaks are connected by saddles, so one can venture on after reaching Wheeler's summit.

hiking
13 days ago

Great place, easy hike with no technical aspects. Could not locate the geo marker on this Peak.

Camp at the lake/waterfall and enjoy. Campfire wood scarce.

Hiked and camped in August 2017.

1 month ago

Went up 11/12/17. Snow on the ground from the beginning, (Phoenix Lodge), all-the-way up to the summit, but no traction needed. (MicroSpikes stayed in my pack).

For those unfamiliar, this is a switch-backed trail that anyone can hike, with no exposure and no scrambling. The altitude might slow you down a bit, but this is an easy route to a 13,000+ summit, with a magnificent view of the Sangre de Cristos, clear up to Colorado.

I highly recommend doing this as a loop hike, taking Bull-of-the-Woods down to the Taos Ski area main parking lot. This means 7mi down instead of 4mi, but you traverse an incredible ridge and alpine meadow, with 4-5 miles above treeline. The only issue here is that the two trailheads are about 2miles and 800ft of elevation apart. (I usually park down below, and hitch a ride up to the Phoenix in the morning.)

2 months ago

Beautiful hike! We went on a windy day, which made us decend quickly after we got there. Be prepared to walk through several rock fields on the way to the top.

hiking
2 months ago

My wife and I did this trail in September as our last hike during our 3 month stay in New Mexico. It was by far the hardest hike I have ever done as I developed some altitude sickness symptoms during the hike, despite having done several other hikes (up to 11,000 feet elevation) during our time there! Although it was difficult, I was so proud to make it to the top and it was a once in a lifetime experience for me. We saw elk and a big horned sheep! When we neared the top it began to thunder and started snowing! Although the visibility wasn't great at the top in the weather conditions, the view was awesome on the way up. It was an afternoon I will never forget.

2 months ago

We did it today. Lots of new snow, I mean above 5' at least. We used tracking devices on the shoes, poles etc. wind gusts above 70mph. Most of the hikers were turning back before reaching the ridge. Couldn't talk nor take a breath close to the top. My phone froze and stopped working. It was insane. Cold, windchill low below freezing. I ended with one leg in an unexpected ditch up to my groin in the snow. Get yourself well prepared if you go this year/season. I expected this to be tough but due to the crazy winter conditions, it was the most difficult hike in my life. Views were magnificent though. I wish we had more sun! Amazing hike. I am happy to be alive though. LOL

backpacking
2 months ago

We started out at Taos Ski Village at 4:30pm, at dinner at the summit and watched the sunset. Un.be.lieve.able. Craziest hike up, you hike 20 ft then have to stop you are so worn out. Don't give up, it'll all make sense in the end.

backpacking
2 months ago

This was a beautiful hike I stayed overnight at Williams Lake and couldn’t have been happier. Though this trail shows a straight shot up the mountain, it is a very difficult trail to find let alone hike. There is another trail that has switchbacks to the top that is a much more preferred route to take.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike but definitely longer then 6.2 miles. We summited in 4hrs 40min and 19 sec. and recorded 8 miles on All trails.
Other devices said more. I’m not really worried.
Beautiful view the entire trail.
Fun fun fun is all I can say.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

September 15th me and my hiking buddy submitted Wheeler peak we started at 6.30am and made it back to the car by 1.30pm. We stopped on the way up to check out Williams lake which was beautiful especially early in the morning near sunrise when no one else is around! It's an easy trail to follow just try not to take any short cuts because you will loose sight of the trail epically once you are out of the forest. When you approach the saddle at the top there are no signs but the peak is on your right. It does get a little chilly especially once your out of the forest so make sure you have a windproof jacket that's warm. The wind that day was CRAZY, it was almost blowing us over so we had to be extra careful when we approached the summit and the clouds where pretty low so we did have poor visibility at times but luckily it did begin to clear at the top and on the way back down. Even though I didn't bring walking poles with me I do suggest taking them if you have them as going down on the rocks can be a little challenging at times. If your not used to the altitude definitely make sure you take enough short breaks to catch your breath, drink and have snack so you don't burn out on your way back down!I All in all it is definitely one of my favorite hikes and I definitely recommend it, one day I will go back and do this trail again.

hiking
3 months ago

On September 10th, 2017 I climbed to Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake. There was rain the night before. I started from the parking area north of the Bavarian Restaurant. It had four clean outhouses, a bear proof trash and recycle bin (not overflowing), and a hand wash with soap. Pretty nice.
I normally try to maintain at least a 2 mile per hour pace but my hiking companion wasn’t up to it so I won’t talk about time. The trail starts along a service road that narrows to a footpath. At the Williams lake or Wheeler Peak split we continued on to Williams Lake just to see it. I was glad that I did because it is a nice mountain lake and it gave me prospective. As you get to higher elevations you will get a number of views of Williams Lake in the valley below from an increasingly greater distance.
We saw marmots, chipmunks, and a pair of large birds (I took a nice picture of one that I will post) along with several smaller ones. No deer, elk, or big horn sheep unfortunately.
The switchbacks have rockslide areas which are a bit more technical than La Luz. The rocks are not packed with dirt so they can move and roll under your feet. Also they became a bit slippery in the rain/hail that we encountered on the way back down. At one point on the switchbacks just before the ridge to the peak the trail was the steepest trail (not steps or rock climbing) that I have even been on. Coming down that part of the trail with a 30lbs pack, fatigued legs and a bit of hail was exhilarating.
I signed the logbook and enjoyed the view from the peak but it was midday and a bit hazy. It was my first time and I have talked about doing it for a while. I’m glad that I finally did.

hiking
3 months ago

Once you make it past the tree line, it is a rocky trail so make sure to have a hiking stick when you come down. Lots of marmots and pikas around. Saw some big horn sheep too. We started around 7:30am and we were back to the car by 2:30pm. It is very steep toward the top but worth the hike for sure. Take breaks if you need them and you will make it. Very pretty hike and made it to the top and avoided the monsoons. I would recommend going to Taos Ski Valley the night before to help with the elevation and then you can grab a beer and relax at a hotel with a hot tub.

3 months ago

The last mile is steep but completely doable. Not sure if visiting the lake on the way is really worth it but we did anyway.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing hike! Beautiful views well worth the intense hike. Trial is very clearly marked and easy to follow. Definitely recommend

3 months ago

Mileage is closer to 8miles round trip direct to summit and back. Had the same issue hiking Pikes peak and the mileage was wrong as well. The hike was awesome, plenty of wildlife and great views. Gets busy after 10am with plenty of hikers on the way up while I was heading back.

3 months ago

Great trail. Expect an increase in grade shortly after the lake.

3 months ago

beautiful. last mile is tough but totally worth it

3 months ago

The hike takes you through many different features (forest, streams, rock slides, lake, meadow) and ends with great view. Very well marked and easy to follow. When you get very near the top, there is a trail to the left peak and one to the right peak. Right peak is Wheeler, and left is Walter.

hiking
3 months ago

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