Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail

HARD 271 reviews
#1 of 44 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

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

skiing

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

snow

hiking
4 days ago

Wonderful trail. Great views. We had perfect weather. Nice climb the final 1.5 miles. Highly recommend especially for those who like a challenge.

hiking
4 days ago

I highly recommend this hike! The snow is mostly gone impacting only a small section of the hike near the top. We were able to avoid the snow by taking an alternate route which others have obviously been taking. I suggest an early start because the rain clouds start building around noon. We got caught in a rain and hail shower on our way down. We had cover from the trees but others were not as fortunate and were exposed above the tree line.

hiking
5 days ago

Hi! As we were descending from Wheeler today, we found a cell phone (a gray iPhone 6S/6 with no case, but a design on the back) on the long snow patch that people slide down. We took it mid-slide and would love to return to its owner! Please contact if you are missing a phone on the snow-slide area on the Wheeler trail coming up from Williams.

hiking
5 days ago

There is still snow and ice crossings but overall it was an incredible hike.

hiking
6 days ago

The visibility today was unlimited. I could see peaks that I know are over 80 miles away. It was perfectly clear and made for gorgeous 360 degree views at the top.

hiking
snow
7 days ago

Great route. Lots of snow and ice crossings. Trekking poles were helpful. View at summit is well worth the work to get there.

hiking
rocky
snow
7 days ago

Fantastic day hike! Started at 7:45am and made it back to the trailhead around 2:00pm. We spent about 45m-1hr at the summit and enjoyed watching the clouds roll in/out and the playful marmot families. Take sunscreen and chapstick, the wind will lull you into a false sense of security but all of us got burned. Hiking polls recommended. Snow heavy in places along the last mile of the hike. Lastly, it’s not posted but when you reach the saddle right below the summit Wheeler Peak is to the RIGHT not left.

HP #22 for us! We left very early to avoid any afternoon weather, this pretty much let us have the entire trail to ourselves on the way to the peak. Still some snow but manageable with hike boots, more danger with the mud. We started following the "old" trail due to the gps, however it looks like they have re-routed it for the first mile, which we took on the way down. The switchbacks on top hurt a little, but it was a good payoff. Amazing, but windy at the top. The overcast weather made the descent very pleasant. Enjoy this one!

hiking
10 days ago

Awesome mountain. Touches your soul. Nice to be up and away from everything. The altitude towards the end gets to you a little if you don’t slow down. Turned back in the last 100 feet due to lightning on top.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
12 days ago

Climbed wheeler today with my parents (in their 60s). It was tough - mainly because of the remaining snow but fortunately the weather favored us and we weren’t rushed in the least. Both of them enjoyed it - amazing views and lots of marmots and pica up top. We were all relieved to get past the snowy parts, but if you dig your boots in on the way up and slide parts on the way down it’s totally manageable. Just take it slow and steady. Totally worth it! My third time - still one of my favorite peaks.

hiking
12 days ago

My husband, 19 year old son and I all hiked this trail on July 2. We made it to the top in about 3 1/2 hours. We started at 6am, which was a perfect time. We were the only ones on top when we got there so that was nice. There is still some snow to go around but totally doable. We did not use poles. I would recommend to get an early start to beat the afternoon thunderstorms

hiking
13 days ago

My husband and I and our two girls, 15 & 12 hiked the mountain today. It was a beautiful day! There is still snow on parts of the trail but totally doable. We had poles which helped tremendously and the girls favorite part was sliding down the snow shutes on the way back down. It saved us some time and was fun! So glad we did this. The views are incredible!

hiking
15 days ago

I hiked with my boys 14 & 16. We just had hiking boots and walking sticks. We made it without too much trouble. The snow gets annoying but you can work around it. Thanks to the crew setup at the lake fork serving passer bys brats and margaritas! Good ❤️ people!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
18 days ago

Difficult and dangerous at times, but well worth it! The altitude and snow made the trip up difficult, but the way down was easier using the snow chutes to slide down. We saw many marmots and a family of mountain goats. I was hiking with my two children, age 15 and 18, and another teenager. The wind on top almost blew us over! We completed the trip in about 6 hours.

hiking
scramble
snow
21 days ago

Most snow I’ve ever seen in the Sangre De Christos! Was a fantastic hike, pushed myself and made summit in a little over 2.5 hours. Lots of snow, post holed more times than I can count. There’s a giant ice field that covers a handful of the switchbacks about 2/3 of the way up...After trying to stick to the trail across the snow field for a bit, I resorted to just going up the left side of the snow field until I got above most of the snow. Spikes/poles recommended (though I had neither!) windy up top for sure, but among the prettiest views in NM. Finished in 4:50. I had fewer than 3 days in altitude (live at sea level)...wouldn’t recommend doing that.

hiking
28 days ago

6/15/19: This trail was spectacular but the snow made it more challenging in some ways and easier in others (such as sliding down a large chunk on the descent). It gets four stars just because of the snow which covered most of the trail. It was hard packed in some areas but other areas I sunk in sometimes knee or waist deep. There’s no way I could have summitted without trekking poles and the GPS on this app. I lost the trail a few times. Snow shoes would have been very helpful. Or even shoe spikes. Make sure you start early in the day (7-8am, if not earlier). I started later than recommended and still made it only because, by chance, the thunderstorm clouds cooperated. I was also chasing dusk which was nerve wracking (predators such as mountain lions come out at dusk). I got very lucky but would not risk it again! Just go early. Obviously, always hike with at least one other person but especially with this much snow. A woman I met on the descent had injured both her ankles and wouldn’t have made it back if she hadn’t been with a group. I advise to wait until the snow melts. But, if you must hike it now, you need to be prepared. Do not take the risks I did; be smart.

hiking
snow
29 days ago

Hiked it on Fathers Day, epic, but a lot of snow still, had to sled down as much as possible w/ a poncho around my waste, highly recommend ski poles, I say wait until Fall...

hiking
off trail
snow
29 days ago

We hiked the Williams Lake trail on June 15th. We hiked primarily on hard packed snow to the lake, but past the lake, the route became much more difficult as at least half the route was under deep snow. Because of this, we effectively went off trail until the last 6 or 7 switch backs before reaching the pass, crossing snow and talus fields. The ascent took us roughly 2.5 hours, but using the snow chutes, our descent took about 15 minutes. We also started later than advisable and encountered thunder-snow at the top.

Follow pink tags to blue spray paint. Early parts of trail were wiped by avalanche. Be careful for weather at the top. This is the best hike in NM, hands down. Skip the lake for the descent to keep momentum for the way up. Sliding down is amazing, but bring something to slide with and wear gloves.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Completely doable. Get an early start, snow will be firm. Use this trail app and adjust your route accordingly. Slide down from the highest points via the beautiful snow. 50’s hiker did Williams Lake and Wheeler Peak in like 6 hours. Eat at Bavarian restaurant at bottom of hike, you won’t be disappointed.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked June 11th 2019. Still lots of snow up there. What a beautiful day on this Trail. The trail was not well marked because the snow covered it up. Saw big horn sheep that can within 20 yards of me. Lots of Marmonts and Pika rodents. The views are amazing. Best of all got slide on my bum on the snow 25 percent down the mountain on establish snow chutes, making the trip back easy and fun. I would do this hike again. Because I had difficulty finding the trail, I went off trail up the most vertical direct route. Tough going had to take breaks frequently but ultimately very rewarding and actually I prefer this over plunging my feet into thigh high snow ever 6th step. Great way to avoid the snow fields. It was a glorious day to be on the trail.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

3 months ago

did this hike on April 9th. we took the bull of the woods route up and the Williams lake route down. the winds were unbelievable the entire ridge but died down completely once we were a few switchbacks into our descent. for the most part, the bull of the woods route didn't require snowshoes; however the Williams lake route required them until you get down into the valley- from there you can stay on a well-packed trail

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