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

August 2nd, 2020 Update

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 trails are open and dispersed camping in the wilderness is allowed. Thanks to recent monsoon rains fire restrictions have been lifted on
the Carson National Forest.

Most of the hiking trails are clear - though you may encounter a few downed trees across a trail and lingering snow patches at the highest elevations.

Wildfire smoke advisory - smoke from wildfires in Arizona, California, Colorado and southwest New Mexico may occasionally affect our area. Please plan accordingly - information and links to various resources can be found at NM Fire Info.

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.

Most of the snow has melted, there's still a few deep patches near the lake - wear sturdy boots with good tread, 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. 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. There are still a few lengths of snow  above treeline and some patches in the forest. 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 (about 300' of the trail) 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, through snow and 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 meadows full of wildflowers, and high ridges with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the Rio Grande rift valley. As monsoon season is beginning, 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. In the higher elevations you may still encounter a few patches of deep snow through summer. 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
For the week ahead high temps will be in the upper 60's and 70's in the valleys and 80's along the Rio Grande with a chance for afternoon storms each day. Anything from scattered light showers to heavy downpours is possible, including lightning. Keep your eyes on the sky, monsoon storms can develop quickly - once you see clouds building above the ridges it's time to head down. Even on a clear, sunny day isolated storms are possible. 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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