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

Taos Hiking Trail Maps and Trail Condition Updates

October 27th, 2019

Nights are getting colder and the first snowfalls of the season have arrived, more fresh snow is in the forecast this week! Please Contact us for more info about our area's trails.

Williams Lake Trail
Discover Williams Lake in all its glory! This popular intermediate-level, four-mile round trip hike from The Bavarian follows a 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.

While much of the snow from last Thursday's storm has melted, along the Williams Lake trail there's a couple inches most of the way to the boulder fields just before the lake, with pockets of deeper snow in some areas. 4-8" inches are forecasted with tonight and tomorrow's storm for this area.

Wheeler Peak
Conquer New Mexico's highest peak ~ this 13,161-foot summit can be accessed by either the Bull of the Woods or Williams Lake trails. Get an early start for this expert level hike. Backcountry camping is allowed without a permit, at least 300 feet away from streams and lakes. Keep your eyes peeled for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mule deer and elk. 

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 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.  It can get windy on the ridge, dress warm and bring your sense of adventure!

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 rock fields and open slopes. On a clear day you'll be treated to incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, Rio Grande Rift Valley and distant mountain ranges where the San Juans begin.

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness
The trails within the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness offer excellent potential for day hikes, and overnight or multi-day backpacking adventures! Yerba Canyon has fewer stream crossings than the others. An early start is recommended if you plan to hike above treeline or summit any of the high alpine peaks such as Lobo Peak, bring plenty of food and water - any water from the streams should be boiled or treated and filtered before drinking.

Weather Coming In
A winter storm last week brought up to a foot of snow to the high country, if you're camping bring extra warm layers and sleeping bags as nighttime temps are dipping into the teens. Another storm is expected to start tonight and continue through tomorrow afternoon, with unsettled weather possible through Wednesday followed by a few days of sun. Several inches to over a foot of snow are possible by the end of this cycle.  When planning your trip or hike check the National Weather Service forecast for Taos Ski Valley for an idea of what to expect.


Waterproof boots and hiking poles are recommended for these high elevation hikes, with many trails still holding snow up at higher elevation into early summer. Temperatures can vary greatly, bring layers to accommodate changing temperatures and wind.  Be prepared for cool weather and rain, and always carry extra water. Beware of lightning and stay off the ridges if thunderclouds are overhead. Depart for hikes early in the morning to avoid afternoon lightning and showers.

HikingProject.com - GPS Coordinates for Taos Ski Valley Hiking Trails

Carson National Forest - Taos Ski Valley Hiking Trails

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


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