Williams Lake to Wheeler Peak:
Easy Hikes in Taos or Challenge Yourself on New Mexico's Highest Peak

Taos Hiking Trail Maps and Trail Condition Updates


December 2020

Hiking Updates:

Winter is on, our hiking trails are snowpacked and the mountain scenery is amazing!

If you're going for a hike please continue to practice social distancing and keep it mellow - minimize uneccessary risks as assistance may not be available. Masks or appropriate face coverings are required at all public spaces in New Mexico, including while exercising and hiking. All the trails are open and dispersed camping in the wilderness is allowed. Check the
 Carson National Forest website for any current Fire restrictions.

Wildfire smoke advisory - smoke from wildfires across the west may occasionally continue to affect our area. Please plan accordingly - information and links to various resources can be found at NM Fire Info.

For information about snowpack conditions and avalanche hazards on our local trails please visit the Taos Avalanche Center.

Williams Lake Trail
Discover Williams Lake in all its glory! This popular intermediate-level, four-mile round trip hike from The Bavarian follows a beautiful valley forested with aspen, Engelmann and blue spruce, western white fir, and rarely seen red fir and bristlecone pines can be found in the higher elevations.

The trail is currently ski-packed. Snowshoes or skis with climbing skins are the best ways to travel, if you're hiking wear sturdy boots with good tread, be prepared to posthole and use hiking poles to keep your balance. Follow the blue paint blazes on trees and use a gps app such as Hiking Project to stay on track, as several side trails may lead to other areas. This is the most popular trail in our valley, expect to encounter other trail users.

Wheeler Peak
Conquer New Mexico's highest peak ~ this 13,161-foot summit can be accessed by either the Bull of the Woods (Wheeler Peak Trail #90) or Williams Lake trails. Get an early start for this expert level tour. Dispersed camping is allowed, please stay at least 300 feet away from streams and lakes. Keep your eyes peeled for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mule deer and elk, and smaller forest critters like pine marten and ermin. 

From the Bull of the Woods trailhead by the Twining Campground (at the top of the main parking lot in the village) it's an 8 mile hike through a steep canyon, across an old mining road on Bull of the Woods Mountain's north slopes, then the route climbs above treeline and past the 12,163-foot Frazer Mountain summit. This route is popular among seasoned alpinists and peak-baggers, it's a challenge to take on with determination and experience. You'll encounter some deep snow as you approach Frazer's north ridge. It can get quite windy above treeline, pack extra layers and bring your sense of adventure! Avoid walking onto any snow cornices overhanging off the ridges.

The Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67 begins along the Williams Lake Trail at the saddle just above the lake. The route climbs through old growth conifer forests, crosses several steep avalanche chutes then ascends above treeline onto a wide open glacial moraine at 12,000'. The trail makes some switchbacks up the steep western slope towards the ridge between Mount Walter and Wheeler,  traversing scattered rock fields across open slopes. On a clear day you'll be treated to incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, the Rio Grande Rift Valley and distant mountain ranges such as the San Juans in Colorado.

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness
The trails within the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness offer excellent potential for day hikes, overnight or multi-day backpacking adventures in this beautiful wilderness! These trails include the Yerba, Manzanita, Italianos and Gavilan Canyon trails accessed from Highway 150, and the Long Canyon and Gold Hill/Goose Lake trails accessed from Bull of the Woods. You'll find everything from low-angle narrow singletrack trail, steep-walled traverses, open snow-filled meadows, and high ridges with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the Rio Grande rift valley. All the trails have snow, it's deeper on the Gavilan trail than along the trails lower down along Highway 150. An early start is recommended if you plan to travel above treeline or summit any of the high alpine peaks such as Lobo, Gavilan or Gold Hill. Bring plenty of food and drinking water - any water from the streams or melted snow should be boiled and/or filtered before drinking. There are some trees down across the Long Canyon Trail about 3/4 of a mile up, You'll know when you get there and once you pass these trees the rest of the trail is clear.

Weather Coming In
Sunny skies mild temps are in the forcast for the first half of December, snow or rain is unlikely as a high pressure system is expected to keep the southwest dry. When you're planning a trip or hike check the National Weather Service forecast for Taos Ski Valley for an idea of what to expect.

Precautions:

Waterproof boots and hiking poles are recommended for these high elevation hikes. Bring extra layers to accommodate fluxuating daytime temps and wind. Be prepared for changing weather, and always carry extra water. Beware of lightning during storms and stay off the ridges if you hear thunder. Depart for hikes early in the morning to return before dark. During the Spring and early Summer avalanche conditions may exist on certain aspects, be aware of the terrain you're hiking in and assess conditions continuously as you travel.

HikingProject.com - GPS Coordinates, descriptions, photos and other info for all Taos Ski Valley Hiking Trails

Carson National Forest - Taos Ski Valley Hiking Trails (Questa Ranger District)

Carson National Forest Dog Policy
 

Name of Trail Print Map
Distance
one way
Hiking Trail Horse Trail Cross Country Ski Trail Snowshoeing
Wilderness Area
Degree of Difficulty
Gavilan Trail 60
Map
3.3miles X
X
 
X
X Intermediate/Expert
Gold HIll 64
Map
3.7miles X
X
 
X
X Moderate/Difficult
Italianos Canyon Trail 59
Map
3.6 miles  X X   X X Intermediate
Lobo Peak 57
Map
10.7 miles X     X X Difficult
Long Canyon 63 
Map
3.6 miles X X X X X Expert
Manzanita Canyon Trail 58
Map
4.2 miles X X   X x Expert
Wheeler Peak Summit 67
Map
2.2 miles X       X Expert
Bull Of The Woods/Wheeler Peak Trail 90
Map
8 miles X X X X X Expert
Williams Lake Trail 62
Map
2 miles X X X X X Novice/Intermediate
Yerba Canyon Trail
Map
4 miles X     x X Expert

Hiking

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