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“Hike to Williams Lake very worthwhile” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area

Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area
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Ranked #13 of 114 things to do in Taos County
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Hiking
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Owner description: Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, this wilderness area includes Wheeler Peak, which is the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet in height.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Hike to Williams Lake very worthwhile”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

Best hike we went on in the Taos area. Reasonably challenging and suitable for young and old. Area around the lake is a nice reward for the hike and great place to relax for a bit. The Bavarian restaurant near the trail head is a good place to grab a beer on the way down.

Visited June 2013
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54 reviews from our community

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English first
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Wheeler Peak – Amazing Hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

We took a group of 13 girls around 15 years of age along with 6 adults up to Wheeler Peak. For several of the girls this was the first real hike they had been on.

Our group started the hike at Williams Lake where we camped the night before. We were at various levels of physical fitness so it took between 3.5 and 4 hours to hike to the top. We took lunch with us and ate at the top of the peak.

If we were to do this again we will stop at the tree line and have a snack before hiking further. Many of the girls ran out of energy about 2 hours in (this is why we should have stopped for a snack) so the last 2 hours were very difficult. The hike is well worth the effort.

To enjoy the experience, bring plenty of water to drink, food, a wind breaker, hiking poles, and a camera. The hike took 1.5 hours down the mountain back to camp at the lake.

Great hike, loved it.

Visited June 2013
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Via Bull of the Woods and Williams Lake”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2013

A superb hike especially in June when the wildflowers are in abundance. Hiked on Jun 22 starting from the Bull-of-the-Woods trailhead, elevation just under 9500'. Much of the lower section of the hike is in the woods and follows old roads thus the trail is wide. Once the trail nears La Cal basin you're above timberline with superb views with a single trail track. Snow was still present in places too. Enroute to Wheeler peak you will pass Mount Walter at an elevation of 13,133'. Continuing on the trail I saw two Bighorn Sheep grazing on the slope below. As you near Wheeler you will see a cairn which marks the trail junction with Williams Lake. Mount Wheeler was crowded despite the fierce cool wind. About 20 people were sitting around attempting to hide from the wind while they enjoyed a bite of food. On the return trip I took the Williams Lake route which descends via switchbacks of scree. Footing can be tricky in places so do pay attention. Saw two Marmots on the way down plus plenty of wildflowers. The trailhead for Williams Lake is around 10,250'. Since my car was at the Twinning parking lot next to the Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead I had to walk about two miles down a dirt road. Total distance was around 14 miles which took 7 hours. The Bull-of-the-Mountain trail route is around 7.5 miles (length varies with the source) while the Williams Lake portion is 4.1 miles. Most people take the Williams Lake trail as its much shorter and starts out at a higher elevation. Trail is steep though once you start the switchbacks above Williams Lake plus much of the trail is nothing more than packed scree. Pavement ends at the Twinning parking lot next to Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead so anyone heading up to the Williams Lake parking lot will have to drive up a well-maintained dirt road for about 2 miles.

As a side note I would ask visitors to stay on the trails. Not only is it safer but it prevents scarring the landscape. High elevation tundra has a very short growing season thus damage takes several years to repair. I mention this because I happen to witness a dozen University of Alabama students cutting across a large swath of La Cal basin - "pioneering" their own trail in order to avoid the switchbacks of the trail.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boykins, VA
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Great climb to New Mexico's highpoint!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2013

Loved the hike to New Mexico's highpoint. There are two routes, and we took the shorter, but steeper, William's Lake Trail, thanks to the good advice of an expert climber who bartends at the Sagebrush Inn. He gave us great advice: Would do this trail again! The view from the top was fabulous!

Visited May 2013
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Portland, Oregon
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Mt. Salto trail”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 9, 2013 via mobile

A local hiking buddy took me up this trail until the snow become too much (about 3 miles, I'd guess) in early May. It is a nice trail, that follows and crosses the creek (there are numerous creek crossing; we had poles and I'm glad we did. Maybe later in the season the creek is lower. However, there certainly were rocks and logs to step on to cross, but you want to be confident about your footing and have waterproof shoes -- my boots were perfect). The forest has a mix of aspen, white fir, doug fir, scrub maple. We made it past the granite outcroppings and scambled up for a view down the vailey across to some far distant mountains. If you are a confident hiker, I'd recommend this. it was a little early for wildflowers. Well, it snowed on us on the way back. No one else on the trail - ah! Note: There is a $4 / person fee that is charged bgore the trailhead. Watch for the permit sign.

Visited May 2013
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