Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail

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Carson National Forest

Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail is a 8.2 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: 8.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,024 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

skiing

snowshoeing

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

snow

Really well marked trail. The 1st 1/3 is well shaded, in the trees, and hard pack trail. Once you break out above the tree line the winds pick up and you are very exposed to sun/elements. The top third is mostly hiking in the scree. Easy to follow but be mindful of your steps. This is roughly 3000’ in 4mi. Allow time to Summit and keep in mind that afternoon storms (between 2p-4p) can be common in the late summer/early fall. The winds T the top are aggressive and can reach 50mph+.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
2 days ago

Lots of mud below tree line as of 5/27. There is still snow for glissading up top safely. Watch for afternoon storms. *Note* if you lost a single MSR Alpine type snowshoe this winter - I climbed up some talus rock to grab it. Brought it to the bridge to start the hike 5/27. I’m not a local so couldn’t hold onto it.

hiking
muddy
snow
4 days ago

Wife, dog, and I hiked this today. Started out at 745am, still lots of snow but weather was 35 so it was firm. Hardly any postholing, it’s all hard pack at this point. Some sketchy areas above the tree line with snow, especially once the sun is out past noon. The hike back was a slush fest below the tree line. Beautiful views at wheeler made it worth it.

hiking
snow
6 days ago

Hiked to the peak 5/23/2020 starting mid morning. Did not need snowshoes. First section of trail to wheeler lake before the trail split off had snow but was packed down from all the day hikers so didn’t posthole. Climb to top though had deep snow in shadowed areas but can for most part hike/scramble around it but some spots unavoidable. Would recommend micro spikes and gaiters. Very windy at the peak. For camping in the area, official public camp spots were closed because of COVID, but plenty of spots off the road and in the park for a tent.

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
12 days ago

Beautiful! Highly recommend starting early (we started at 8am) and bring poles. Still lots of snow, and as the day progresses it turns into slush towards the base. When you're in the tree line, look for the blue paint on the trees that mark the trail. At the split - look for a sign that says "No horses on trail no. 67" to find the correct path up. You can follow the marked trail once above the tree line, but some areas were pretty icy, so we found our own way in between the marked trail at times. Poles would probably be welcome any time of year as there are some steep areas. Wear proper hiking shoes - loose gravel at the top could be challenging otherwise. And hold on to your hats, its windy up there!

Amazing views. Worth the trip. Tons of snow still at certain points. Wet from knees down.

hiking
icy
snow
14 days ago

A great trail so I still have it 5 stars but it’s still pretty snowy, I postholed just like the last reviewer did a week earlier.

hiking
icy
snow
21 days ago

Way too much snow. Postholed the whole way back. It was rough coming down.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

snowshoeing
2 months ago

Beautiful and extremely challenging near the top. Would not recommend attempting to summit due to snow conditions. Hike to the lake very fun, snowshoes not necessarily needed until past the lake.

snowshoeing
snow
3 months ago

Well packed to Williams Lake. Stunning views. And there are blue dots on the trees to mark the trail. Made it to 12,300 before I turned back. Followed some skin tracks up to 12,000. Is very steep; I didn’t feel like snowshoes had enough traction.

hiking
snow
4 months ago

Snowed in heavy after Williams lake, pushed about .75 miles with snow shoes but 4’ powder caves make for tough going. Possible, but tough right now.

4 months ago

State Highpoint #15 for me and possibly my favorite one to date. Pictures posted... just wow. My parents (65 and 60 years old) did this with me with minimal training back home in Pennsylvania beforehand. We got great weather and were able to take it slow. Round trip was about 8 hours (about 5 up and 3 down).

hiking
4 months ago

Dec 31. Snow is still very fluffy and deep. I skinned on my splitboard most of the way up. There was no ski track to the summit. The summit did not look enjoyable to ski, as it was too rocky. Deep snow below tree line gave way to a thin snowpack due to wind sweeping. Avalanche risk seemed minimal at the time. No signs of bad snow on western faces. Northern and Eastern faces seemed more windloaded. Good snow. Fun trail. Fantastic views. If you are looking to do this, you’ll need snowshoes or skis.

icy
snow
5 months ago

Climbed on Christmas day from Bavarian restaurant (4x4 access only) fresh snow and trail covered. Definitely need snowshoes/skins and splitboard/skis. the snow was 1.5meters deep in some areas. Fairly easy to get to the lake however from the lake to the summit is quite difficult. There is no discernable trail until one reaches the wind swept face above the treeline so until then you must make your own track through the wash or trees and the snow is often more than one meter deep. Once above the treeline the wind will be very strong you can pick out the zig-zag of the trail if you get a clear view. At the summit expect serious winds, the wind was strong enough to blow me over but I used my piolet to steady myself. Some break in the clouds provided a brief view. I brought my snowboard so I had a nice ride down and also saved a lot of time. On the ride down do not worry too much about the trail just keep left towards the ski lifts and you will intersect the trail. Good Luck

hiking
off trail
snow
5 months ago

Did this trail on December 20, 2019. A LOT OF SNOW! There is a pretty well defined path up to the Williams Lake, pretty packed snow on the path. There are some places where you go into the snow knee high, but not too many. The real struggle is after the fork Williams Lake/ Wheeler Peak. The snow is not packed there, some places waist high. It is impassible without snow shoes. The path there is off trail, and if you follow it (as did I), you will end up in the valley (approx 12k ft) where it ends (probably it is where people give up and turn around). I chose to go up and a little to the right, and ended up on the Mt. Walter. From the top of Mt. Walter you will see the Wheeler Peak, and you can hike on the ridge. Very windy on top, protect your face from frostbite. I wouldn’t make it without snowshoes, waterproof pants, mittens, sunscreen, sunglasses, warm socks and a good jacket. Bring snacks that don’t freeze and take your water in thermos (my water bottles froze). Start early. Good luck! The trail is so beautiful!

snowshoeing
snow
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Climbed Wheeler on 12/7/2019. First off - if you do not have four wheel drive or chains, you are not making it to the trailhead by the Bavarian Restaurant - it will add 4 miles to your trek, starting from the Taos ski parking lot (or you can do the Bull of the Woods trail - 16 miles round trip). Winter conditions - 3 feet of snow came in 1 week ago and another 3-4 inches several days before we climbed. We snowshoed the whole way - trailhead to peak ridge - if you try in these conditions without snowshoes, you are not going to make it. Winds were approximately 60 mph sustained at the top - zero visibility.

hiking
snow
6 months ago

Attempted to catch the summit on 11/24. Hike to the lake was packed down snow, but not well marked. Where the trail splits to go either up to the summit or to the lake, we took a right to go up to the summit and there was at least 8inches of powdery snow and no trail marked out. We used the AllTrails map to get to about 11,400 ft but after blazing the trail through 8inches-4ft of snow in some of the drifts, we were exhausted and wanted to be sure we left enough time to get down before sundown so we turned around. We’ll be back another time to catch the summit.

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