Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail is a 13.7 kilometer 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.

Length13.7 kmElevation gain909 mRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingFishingHikingHorseback ridingSkiingSnowshoeingRunningDog friendlyForestLakeRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeBlowdownMuddyRockySnow
Description
Waypoints (10)

The Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake Trail leads up to the tallest point in New Mexico. The trail begins from a large parking area. There are restrooms at the parking lot. It is a really well marked trail and a favorite in the southern Rocky Mountains. 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+. From the peak you have beautiful views of Taos Ski Valley, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the surrounding Wheeler Peak Wilderness. It is a great weekend trip or a fun addition if you are there for the ski area. The Wheeler Peak Trail is a highly recommended hike and one of the best peak climbs in the United States. The trail can periodically be unavailable certain days because of local agreements with the Indian Reservation. Please check the alerts section of the Carson National Forest Service site for detailed information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/news/carson/news-events

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Reviews (773)
Photos (1,468)
Activities (512)
Completed (1,805)
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Jeremy Ecton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 31, 2021
Hiking

Incredible hike. Filmed the experience in 4k. Can view it here for reference: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFCcB03vM-nepESoPJ4KvA

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Chad Arthur
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 27, 2021
SnowshoeingSnow

Tried for Wheeler Peak on 2/26 but only made it about 2.7 miles. Trail was mostly there until the Lake/Peak split. After that the trail gets buried by blowing snow before you make it back down. We were post holing with snowshoes up to our waists, so we called it. I did speak with Taos Avalanche folk beforehand. They were super helpful!

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Rachel Ortega
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 30, 2020
HikingGreat!RockySnow

the trail was great and once you reach the peak the views are amazing. its worth the hike.

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Julienne P.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 22, 2020
Hiking

Hiked on 11/22/20, absolutely stunning views! Recommend starting early! The snow was fresh and fluffy so luckly going up wasn't terrible. It was very windy at the top, we got to see some big horned sheep! Would definitely recommend doing it! Will go again when there's no snow. cheers and happy hiking!

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Jerriann Kalem
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HikingGreat!RockyScramble

By the end of the hike I was hobbling to the peak. Worth it

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Liam McIntyre
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 9, 2020
HikingIcySnow

Awesome hike. First half to Williams Lake is really packed down but I’d still recommend spikes. Post-holed pretty much the whole last 2 miles to the summit though, even with snowshoes. If you’re prepared and start early you should be fine.

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Bobby Thrash
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 2, 2020
HikingGreat!

We did it October 15th 2020 which I know can be getting to the outer edge of the comfortable hiking days of the season for this trail. It had snowed a week or two before but trail was clear. Beautiful day overall and especially at the bottom/start but wow it was windy and cold at the top. We were prepared so it was fine. But it would have been very uncomfortable if not prepared. Views of sheep and mountains, beautiful. Do It

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garrett stephens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2020
HikingSnow

hiked it Friday 11/20/20 right before new snow hit. very good hike snow mostly packed down on trail and only deep in the final switchback ascent. don't need snowshoes or skis

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Marcelo Escobedo
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HikingGreat!
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Phi Lark
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 6, 2020
Hiking

Hiked it on November 5th. Absolutely beautiful, great views in all directions, only a few other hikers on the trail. Lake was fully frozen, looked beautiful. In terms of trail conditions: Snow from the very beginning. Further down it’s pretty packed and as a result slippery at times - micro spikes not needed but recommended. Later on it got pretty deep and mushy - snowshoes not needed but recommended. Gaiters absolutely needed, as you will be knee deep in snow. We mostly did not really follow the trail but went straight up (more or less) the mountain through the snow.

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Aaron Kohlschmidt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 3, 2020
Hiking

It was hard we didn’t make it to the top but it was awesome!

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Tim Nichols
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 3, 2020
HikingSnow

Great hike and well worth the effort. Part 1 (to Williams Lake) is easy and well packed. Poles are nice but no gear is necessary. Part 2 (to Wheeler Peak) has about a foot of snow as of Nov 3. Most hikers have skipped the switchbacks so a) it's difficult to find the formal trail and b) expect to wade through fresh snow. Snowshoes, Gaters, Poles highly recommended.

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Pranav J
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 31, 2020
HikingIcyMuddyRockySnow

HP#6 Trailhead is easy to find, but in muddy/snowy conditions, the last 0.3 mile to the trailhead could be challenging if you don't have a awd or 4wd vehicle. I underestimated this hike. First of all, I did not expect it to be snowy from the very start of the hike. it was my first hike in the snow. First 2 miles to the Williams Lake was not too difficult. But, the next 1.2 miles from the Williams Lake/Wheeler peak junction that i did in attempt to reach the peak was unimaginably tough. Trail was covered in snow and wasn't really visible. It was chilling cold and needed both my hands to balance myself, so couldn't really follow the alltrails route (though the alltrails route was not visible at all). So, I followed the footstep trail and reached to a point from where could not go any further. Then started my return journey, spent a few minutes at frozen Williams lake. Overall, it was a good experience. Wheelers Peak- I WILL BE BACK.

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Mary Mathis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 25, 2020
HikingRocky

this was such a hard hike. incredibly windy at the top, and the switchbacks seem to never end. the views are great the whole way though

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Tiffany Esquibel
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HikingGreat!
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Katie Leigh
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Hiking

This is a beautiful hike! As others have said, the top is steep and rocky, poles were definitely a big plus. It was VERY windy and cold at the top. Recommend a wool hat and good gloves in addition to a warm jacket. Trail was steadily busy but not too crowded on late October Friday. No issues with parking at the trail head even though we got a late start (arrived at 10 am, there were plenty of spots).

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Bill Brown
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Hiking
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Julian S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 20, 2020
Hiking

Great challenging hike. The last mile is steep switchbacks with intermittent gravel and boulder fields. No water sources other than Williams Lake, so plan accordingly if you have a dog with you.

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Alanna Warner-Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

We did an out-and-back to Wheeler peak, via the Williams Lake Trail. The first half of the trail is a relatively easy climb to the Wheeler Peak/Williams Lake junction. The junction is a perfect place for a quick snack and recharge before heading up to the peak. After the junction, the climb starts a bit more, with a climb through the forest. Once you get out of the trees, the climb starts in earnest with long switchbacks and incredible views. These aren't the Switchbacks of Sorrows, however; these start once the peak is in view, the trail goes through more scree, and the short switchbacks are shorter and steeper. I enjoy physical activity, but I'm more of a "likes to lift weights, finds an excuse to skip cardio days" type of person, so the steep switchbacks combined with the climbing elevation were hard. But, one foot in front of the other, an identity crisis in the middle of the switchbacks and a thorough examination of life choices that led you to the hike and you're at the top! Top was windy and cold, but views were gorgeous. I highly recommend stopping by Williams Lake on the way down--it's a perfect spot for post-summit sunbathing and snacks before a quick hike back to the hiker parking lot. I also was really glad I had my trekking poles--made the downhill trek and the scree easier to manage.

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k k
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Hiking
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Laura Henry
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Hiking

This trail overall was not hard. Definitely the challenging part for most will be the altitude.

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