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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67, NM

no permit
33 4 0
Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > North Central
5 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 11,078 feet
Elevation Gain 2,106 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,106 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 9.22
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
19  2019-09-13
Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake
16  2019-09-10
Wheeler Peak via Bull of the Woods Trail
15  2019-07-13
Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake
18  2018-05-28
Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake
Author friendofThundergod
author avatar Guides 18
Routes 278
Photos 7,651
Trips 711 map ( 8,339 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location AZ
Co-Author HAZ_Hikebot
co-author avatarGuides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map (6 Miles)
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Sun  5:49am - 6:00pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!

Author Full Detail Guide
The Wheeler Peak Summit Trail begins approximately two miles in on the Williams Lake Trail at the junction where the Williams Lake Trail veers off to Williams Lake.

The trail begins in a forest, but quickly reaches the treeline, where it will climb gradually and a little steeply at times to its intersection with the Wheeler Peak Trail #90 after approximately 2 miles.

The forest service reminds you to stick to the established trail, as cutting switchbacks is ruining the fragile environment above the treeline. Don't be that guy! The point of hiking is not to see how many tenths of a mile you can shave off your hike by cutting switchbacks.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.


    Carson FS Details
    The trail follows the Williams Lake Trail almost to the lake before heading to the summit for an additional 2 miles. Start by hiking south on the broad trail from the parking lot. Walk past a small pond on the left then continue past the restaurants and ski area facilities. After the base of the chairlift continue south on the broad trail on the left. After a short distance take another left. This is the Williams Lake Trail #62. This area is very well marked. The trail is rocky and broad at first, but soon the Wheeler Peak Wilderness boundary is reached and the tread gets more narrow and even. Take time to view the avalanche paths and their impact on the surrounding forest. Continue on the trail for nearly 2 miles of gentle grade to the junction with the Wheeler Peak trail #67, the trailhead will be on your left. This area offers opportunities to view the scenic Williams Lake a short walk further on #62. Take time to appreciate the striking features left behind from the last of the glaciers receding over 10,000 years ago. After the junction of the Wheeler Summit trail #67 the grade gets a bit steeper. It maintains a fairly consistent pitch however; technical climbing gear is not needed. Because the tread is narrow and uneven, built through several scree fields, no equestrian travel is permitted on trail #67. The trail traverses several switchbacks, stay on the trail to prevent falling rock and trail degradation. Please stay off the steep “old route”; it is undergoing rehabilitation efforts by the Carson National Forest. Above tree line enjoy the stunning views throughout the rest of the trail. In approximately 2 miles from the Williams Lake Trail junction, trail #90 is reached. Hike to the right continuing south a short distance to the Wheeler Peak summit, 13,161 feet.

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Got started from the Williams Lake Trailhead just before 6:45am. The first part of the trail winds through the ski resort then it appears the lower part of the trail has been recently rerouted. Great trail conditions for the first mile. Once back on the original trail, it has a lot of exposed rock and tree roots for about a mile. About two miles in, I reached the split in the trail—left for Wheeler, straight for Williams Lake. I had no interest in seeing the lake, so I continued to head uphill. The trail switchbacks up the mountain, and as the switchbacks tighten, the trail gets steeper. The last half mile up to the saddle at 13,000’ is quite steep. But overall, the trail is in good shape.

    The wind was howling at the saddle, so I put a hat and gloves on, and headed up to the Wheeler summit. I sat in the wind shelter and had a snack and took some pictures. I was the first person up there today, so I had the summit all to myself. Headed back down to the saddle, then up to Mt Walter real quick before heading back down the mountain.

    Once below the saddle, the winds started to die down, and I started to finally see other hikers. Everyone was friendly and chatty. Nice trail, and easier than Humphreys from Snowbowl. Saw deer, squirrels, chipmunks, pikas, and marmots. The wildflowers are probably a week past prime up there, but still saw quite a nice display.
    Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I have been eyeing Wheeler Peak for a while, and after hiking in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado for a few days, on my way back to the VOS I decided to swing by Taos Ski Valley and bag the New Mexico High Point.

    I did an out-and-back hike starting at the Bull of the Woods Trail #90. The first part of the hike was through forests that were nice but didn't have any views. Once I got near 12,000' I was above the treeline and hiked a few miles in alpine meadows, which had some really nice views. There were 3-4 false summits, and I didn't actually see Wheeler Peak until I was almost there. The trail took me right over Mount Walter, which is only about 25 feet lower than Wheeler Peak.

    This was a nice but strenuous hike -- the distance and elevation gain are similar to hiking Humphreys Peak from the Inner Basin.
    Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Wheeler Peak Wilderness was the last stop for the pups and myself on our five day tour of north central New Mexico. We started the trip off with a backpack into the Pecos Wilderness, we followed that up with a filler hike in the Columbine Hondo Wilderness and then finished with this over night trip into Wheeler. The miles were intentionally low and the itinerary light in the interests of my aging pups.

    The plan called for starting at the upper Williams Lake trailhead and the Williams Lake Trail and then taking the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail to its intersection with trail #90 and then the summit. From there, we were to drop off the backside of Wheeler and head for Horseshoe Lake and camp.

    We got a relatively early start on what was a very cold morning, but I wanted a relatively early start to beat the crowds. Turns out, I only saw four hikers all day, two pairs that started at about the same time as me. Williams Lake has an amazing backdrop, but the lake itself is rather unspectacular. From the lake, it was the summit trail climb to Wheeler's distinct ridgeline. I will admit, the climb was a bit of a slog for me at times, as this was the first time I had carried a heavy pack up to 13K since Forester Pass and the John Muir Trail I believe. Nevertheless, I completed the full pack summit with the pups and we moved on down the ridge towards the Lost Lake Trail. Here I got a little indecisive and after mulling it over in my head and staring at it for five straight minutes, decided to turn around and head back to the ridgeline to bag Old Mike Peak. Simpson was on the way, so I naturally crossed that one off the list as well. Although, it was nice to snag a couple of extra peaks, my real motive was catching a glimpse of Blue Lake. A sacred lake that the local tribe wrestled back from the control of the federal government and now restricts access to only tribal members. The views of the lake were alright, but overall it was the views of the surrounding area not seen from Wheeler that made Old Mike Peak worth the waffling and detour.

    After our ridgeline walking peak extravaganza, we headed down to Horseshoe Lake, a barren little lake that sits just above the treeline and directly below the backside of Wheeler. On the way to the lake we saw a large herd of bighorn, which we watched for awhile before letting them go back to their business, which was just laying around for about half of them. It was immediately evident from the start that the wind would be a little too much and too cold to camp near the lake, so we opted for a site just within the trees and a little downhill on the Lost Lake Trail. At camp it was the usual chores, the usual food and the usual one way conversations with Cup and Blanco. I was a little restless and did not sleep well, perhaps it was from camping at nearly 12k or perhaps it was from the hounding wind and freezing temperatures. Needless to say, I had no problem getting out of that tent near first light the next morning and setting off for the trailhead around 6:30 a.m. The hike back was pretty standard. We cherry picked another peak (Mount Walter) and had another bighorn herd sighting. There were more people on the trail than I thought there would be on a Tuesday, which is further evidence of this areas popularity. Hit it early to beat the crowds and avoid the weekends if possible.

    Permit $$
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    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    See directions for the Williams Lake trailhead.
    page created by friendofThundergod on May 29 2018 8:45 pm
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