Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail

HARD 269 reviews
#1 of 33 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
2,979 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

skiing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

snow

The New Mexico highpoint.

hiking
7 days ago

Trails are decent. Climb is challenging. Views are breathtaking. A must for anyone hiking/backpacking in Taos area

hiking
8 days ago

I would give it a five because the views at top are amazing, but kind of want to give the trail itself a 3 since many parts are in bad condition.

18 days ago

completed this a number of times, latest was today after a 4 year hiatus due to injuries. terrific above tree line views. The climb as always is relentless, even considering the new switchbacks put in a few years ago. Be prepared for rapid changes in weather, especially in monsoon season.
The lower Williams Lake section has been rerouted to accommodate mountain development, in my estimation it has not disturbed the major portion of this section.

hiking
19 days ago

Great hike, start early!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. I stayed at Alpine Suites Inn and made an early start (drive to trailhead is 1.4 miles). The lake is 2 miles in, not overly hard but will get your breathe up for sure. Trail is well-marked. From the lake, the second 2 miles are all switchbacks, first through forest and then into open-air hillside. This is when the hike gets steep. It is strenuous. An hour walk and you will get about halfway through switchbacks, where you will come to a high meadow. From afar it seems the path is overrun with rockfall and you’ll see a well-trodden path through the grass. So I took this cut through to where the path becomes almost all rock further up. Looking back from above, I could see the path was actually above the rockslide but I saved time cutting uphill anyways (it’s totally safe and more comfy to walk on grass anyway). Marmots were everywhere and pika too. Your attention to footing is necessary for the final mile as it is all scree and rock and pretty darn steep, though the path is easy to follow. I got spooked a couple times, as wind and clouds got ferocious. The marmots didn’t seem to mind so I got over it and headed up, finally reaching the saddle just before the summit. I was rewarded with a gorgeous, sunny view of the valley on the north side of Wheeler (I could see Horseshoe Lake sparkling in the distance). Also a stunning view of the other high peaks in the area. Took some pictures at the summit, hung out about 20 minutes, then headed back down. Not nearly as intimidating or hard on the way back. I reached the peak at about 10:00am with a 7am start at trailhead parking lot, and a stop at the lake for a few minutes. Saw a handful of deer near summit and on the way back.

Overall a fantastic hike, I’ll be back!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Really fun hike. Spectacular views of you make it to the top. The last part of the hike is rocky and definitely took its toll on people. Still worth it though. Great view of the lake on your way up too.

1 month ago

Awesome!

hiking
1 month ago

11Aug2018 Saturday, Taos NM
I'm so proud of myself today for completing this incredible hike to New Mexico ' s highest peak - Wheeler Peak. The terrain is spectacular and today the weather was absolutely perfect.
This hike took me just under 5 hours (total traveling time) to complete. The final 1.5 miles to the top was the most difficult for me; stopping frequently to check my internal gage of will power and sheer determination. My body's strength was testing me and my mind was saying, "don't you dare think of turning around." I realize that not all who make the trip - complete the journey, yet there were a lot of people up there today - and I was among them.
Days like today challenge me in so many ways, change me - shape me into someone new, making me stronger, more determined, more patient, and appreciative. And if I could have just one wish granted as I settle in for the evening, - it would be in the order of a really long foot massage.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this last summer. Started at the bottom of the ski resort (approx 8000 ft and change). There is a beautiful and breathtaking view when you get to Williams Lake (around 11000 ft). I made sure to take my time and take all of it in.
Don't forget to sign the book at the top of the mountain and enjoy the incredible view. Also, pack a light jacket b/c it is very windy up there, Visited at the end of June and there was still snow at the peak.

1 month ago

Incredible views and worth every step! The climb gets more difficult starting at the fork with the lake. The last 2 miles are very difficult, but very satisfying to look over what you accomplished.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a great hike, the trails are well marked all the way to summit. Definitely a challenge the last 1.5 miles, footing on the rocks and incline. It took us 2 hr to ascend and the same coming down. Beautiful day all the way around, even saw a Big Horn sheep close to trail!

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely hard, definitely worth it. Lots of different terrain. After the tree line summit seems to take forever up the scrawl but crazy views. Also definitely felt the altitude effects after the tree line. Wind and altitude the last mile or so made it pretty cool.

1 month ago

Summited, sat May 30th.
(Some comments below say it's closed bc of fires so read those/ check the area online)
beautiful hike, amazing views from the top, crazy windy and even cold early in AM.( bring At least a light jacket, gloves, and something for ears depending on time of year/ time of day). when driving at night we came to an area with a ski resort and across the way there was a drop toilet with a sign that said it was a trail Four Wheeler Peak. There were a few cars parked there but we decided to keep going. That was a good choice because we came across another parking area where most people seem to park where the porta potties are. we explored a little bit further and found another parking area. We chose to park there and that was the closest we were able to get. If you park anywhere else past that you might get ticketed or towed. The area is patrolled by a cop. the initial Ascent isn't too bad. It's just like with climbing any mountain you're going to get your heart pump in a little bit. It is the final part that gets a little killer. We did one of the social Trails( because from our standpoint it looked as if the trail had been covered by a rock slide. But that was just the perspective of it from where we were) which basically went straight up and cut off a portion of a Switchback. After doing it we wished we had just done the Switchback as the social trail was steeper than we thought.
this was our third tallest peak in a state to date (Utah, NV, NM) and was definitely pretty short compared to most peaks we've done and well worth it. I think it took us about 5 hours including our break at the top. We hike at a pretty good pace. we started around 645 am on the Saturday of memorial day wknd) . there were a few others in front of us on the trail, but we were first to summit. if you want the peak to yourself start closer to 6. it got busy on our way down.

oh , almost forgot we did do a pit stop at the lake there. I recommend doing that if you have time as it is a nice little stop.

hiking
1 month ago

Attainable but difficult for an average person. Walking through the first few miles below the tree line is strenuous but not bad. Above the tree line is quite difficult. The switchbacks made of loose rocks are not easy to keep solid footing on and can be really taxing. I slowed down and took my time. Took me more than 4 hours to summit but well worth it. Being from Texas, the biggest challenge for me was the altitude. The air felt really thin as I got higher on the mountain

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail, took about 3 hours up and 2 down. The last mile or so is a lot of rock, but overall a great trail. Saw a black tail deer, a couple beavers and lots of marmots

1 month ago

Great trail with a challenging summit. Took 3 hours to get to the peak. Getting to the lake is pretty easy, but once you pass the tree line, the trail becomes very steep and rocky. At some points towards the top the trail is actually made of rocks. The last mike took more than an hour. But the peak is amazing and well worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

Pretty challenging hike for the average person. Took me 4 hours up and 3 hours down. The parts above the treeline were much more beautiful than I would imagine them to be. Gorgeous up there. The lake is very pretty. I had great weather, warm and sunny. Lots of marmots and a bighorn sheep ewe let me walk within 30 feet of her. The only bad part was the rocky jeep trail around the ski area for the first half mile. It can be crowded and the parking lot will fill up on weekends.

hiking
1 month ago

Fun but difficult, especially the last mile above the treeline. Took just shy of 3 hours to reach the peak. Above the treeline there are several scree fields that you will cross that could easily twist an ankle. The views are great and wildlife was abundant including marmots, pikas and bighorn sheep—one that almost ran into me on the trail. A mule deer doe grazed just six feet off the trail in the forest. At the saddle you can turn right for the peak of Mt. Wheeler, which is 13,161 feet or turn left for the peak of Mt. Walter, which is 13,141 feet. We knocked out both peaks before heading down.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail. First 2 Miles is pretty gradual. Clocked in just under 4 hours to get to the summit. We take lots of pictures and kiss a lot. Stopped for a sandwich at the top. Saw a big horn sheep and a long horn goat. Detoured to Williams Lake on the way out for a rest and view. Total time was 6.5 hours and 9.5 miles clocked on the Suunto. Afternoon storms are wicked right now. Suggest an alpine start with a turn around of 11. Hail covered the mountain after we left yesterday.

1 month ago

One tough cookie! It’s very well constructed and maintained. The trail switchbacks it’s way up the face of the southwestern facing bowl to the ridge followed by a short jaunt to the summit. Happy hiking!!

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great training trail for my Kilimanjaro summit. I made it! Enough steep spots to get the calves howling on the way up and the knees growling on the way back. A thirteener + with great vistas and a 3,000-foot rise from the trailhead parking lot or 2,000 from the really cool Williams Lake. Did it three times as part of my prep. Windy on top as others mentioned.

2 months ago

FYI Carson National Forest is re-open with stage 2 restrictions starting July 10, 2018

hiking
2 months ago

Wish I would have seen Andy's post earlier, drove up to Santa Fe yesterday and up to Taos early this a.m. to find it closed due to fire restrictions also...bummer because my son and I made a deal to hike the tallest points in Colorado and New Mexico in one summer. We hiked Mt Elbert three weeks ago. Hurry up rain!

hiking
2 months ago

We did this trail New Year’s Eve, surprisingly with minimal need for crampons/micro-spikes. The latter would have helped. Summit was windy, probably around 30-40 MPH. Worth it!

hiking
2 months ago

just my luck! trail closed due to level 3 fire danger since June 27th... Check before you go.

2 months ago

Amazing hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked Wheeler peak, 6-15, then did Mt. Walter (it's just right there, might as well do 2, 13ers in one trip!) and then to Williams lake on return trip. Pretty big hike, left at 6:30am, and returned at 5pm. A little wind top half, temps in the high 40's but certainly not terrible, actually had the best weather you could expect at that elevation. Fantastic hike, highly recommended! Beautiful views, high mountain flowers, big Horn sheep, pickas, chipmunks, and lots of marmots! They'll go right up and steal your food if you don't watch out. 0 snow on trail, but still a little in the crags on various peaks still left over.

3 months ago

This trail is more spectacular and also much harder than I anticipated. We are from sea level, clocked 10.5 miles and took over 8 hours of purely walking time. Lots of topography change, wildlife and wildflowers. Had some hail along the way .. used all the layers we brought with us. Fantastic!

backpacking
3 months ago

I’ve hiked this trail at least twice and it’s a favorite!

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