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Williams Lake from Upper Trailhead - 3 members in 12 triplogs have rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
12 triplogs
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Jun 24 2020
fricknaley
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 Guides 93
 Routes 384
 Photos 3,912
 Triplogs 2,975

45 male
 Joined Jun 20 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Jun 24 2020
fricknaley
Hiking5.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking5.90 Miles
1,285 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
perfect weather day for the hike up to williams lake.

we spent a good amount of time at the lake, wandering around and checking out some falls and little snow patches. then had a leisurely lunch.

beautiful spot. not too many people at the lake. wonderful day. good memories of when i came and climbed wheeler a few years ago.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
Named place
Named place
Williams Lake
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Jul 13 2019
LJW
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 Photos 627
 Triplogs 182

26 male
 Joined Jun 02 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Wheeler Peak via Williams LakeNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Jul 13 2019
LJW
Hiking11.96 Miles 3,980 AEG
Hiking11.96 Miles   5 Hrs   27 Mns   2.79 mph
3,980 ft AEG   1 Hour   10 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Friend of mine wanted to visit Taos, as he hadn't been in eight years. I said I'd tag along if we could take a shot at Wheeler. Ended up visiting Williams Lake and the Summit of Wheeler Peak together before I took off along the ridge to get to Old Mike Peak.

We were at the trailhead twenty or thirty minutes before sunrise. Rushed the first two miles through the dark, mossy forest of old mixed conifers in order to watch the sunrise at Williams Lake. We took pictures and watched the sun rise on the peaks upside-down in the still, reflective waters of Williams Lake.

The views got progressively better until the trail rose from the treeline, and then the views and surrounding landscape became utterly breathtaking. From the treeline and up we passed maybe twenty marmots and ten pika. The marmots let me get up real close, and really all of the animals we encountered were not very skittish around people. There were a few big snowdrifts that the trail crossed over on the way to the peak in the grassy slopes above the treeline.

The altitude made the final set of switchbacks a little slow going, but the trail really never reached a grade that was uncomfortable. Made it to the ridge and saw a few people taking pictures and heading back down. We had the peak to ourselves and were the third group to summit. Caught our breath for a little while before I headed off down the ridge toward Simpson. I'm not sure how anyone can make it up to the top of Wheeler and resist the urge to go out along the ridge to Old Mike.

To me, the few miles to and from Old Mike and Wheeler were the best part of the trip. The Blue Lake was interesting to see in person. Its turquoise color is striking in contrast to the area it's nestled in. There were two mountain goats and a big horn sheep enjoying the views with me and another person from the top of Mike.

Clouds started to form while I was on the way up Old Mike and were getting heavier as I rushed back to Wheeler Saddle. Made a side trip to Walter Peak before heading down. I was down in the canyon by Williams Lake at 10:30am when the first thunder of the day broke. It continued on until shortly after I made it back to the trailhead.

The trail from Wheeler summit back to the trailhead was pretty crowded, but there was hardly anyone on the trail in the early morning. Lost track of the marmot/pika count, but I think it ended up around 40 and 15 respectively.
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Wildflowers Observation Light
2 archives
May 28 2018
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 300
 Photos 8,562
 Triplogs 806

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Wheeler Peak via Williams LakeNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Backpack avatar May 28 2018
friendofThundergod
Backpack16.11 Miles 5,243 AEG
Backpack16.11 Miles
5,243 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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.
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
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1 archive
Sep 08 2011
RaRoc
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 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 116
 Triplogs 79

36 female
 Joined Apr 24 2010
 Eugene, OR
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Sep 08 2011
RaRoc
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles   2 Hrs      2.45 mph
1,285 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I'm in Taos trying to get some work done, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to squeeze in a quick hike. I took my dogs, and they had an absolute blast playing in the mud and swimming. At the lake, I ran into some campers who weathered a monstrous thunder storm last night, but were still glad to wake up in such pretty surroundings. They pointed me toward a small spur trail that led to a nearby waterfall (less than 1/4 mile away), which was flowing beautifully -- definitely worth the exploration.

On the way down, I encountered several large groups of hikers. I'd heard the trail was popular, but on a Thursday morning?!?! I was glad I began hiking at 8:00 a.m., since most people seemed to be starting as I was finishing.
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Jun 22 2011
iborrego
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 Triplogs 348

27 male
 Joined Oct 13 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Jun 22 2011
iborrego
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles
1,285 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
_____________________
2 archives
Aug 17 2010
Grasshopper
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 Guides 45
 Routes 472
 Photos 8,622
 Triplogs 534

75 male
 Joined Dec 28 2006
 Scottsdale, AZ
Wheeler Peak #62 - #90 ShuttleNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Aug 17 2010
Grasshopper
Hiking10.80 Miles 3,661 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles   8 Hrs   10 Mns   1.32 mph
3,661 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
gpsjoe
SUN_HIKER
A great choice in good weather! :y:
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Culture
Summit Register Log
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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Aug 16 2010
gpsjoe
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 Guides 16
 Routes 123
 Photos 2,810
 Triplogs 140

78 male
 Joined Feb 13 2004
 Mesa, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Aug 16 2010
gpsjoe
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles
1,285 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Grasshopper
It was a cloudy overcast day with fog near the lake and surrounding peaks. This easy 5 mile hike to Williams Lake is very popular with the locals especially on weekends. We explored the lake and the beginnings of the trail that goes from Williams Lake to Wheeler Peak. Our hike was on Monday, August 16 and we would use this approach on Tuesday to reach the peak.
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Aug 16 2010
Grasshopper
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 Guides 45
 Routes 472
 Photos 8,622
 Triplogs 534

75 male
 Joined Dec 28 2006
 Scottsdale, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Aug 16 2010
Grasshopper
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   1.40 mph
1,285 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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gpsjoe
Kind-of a day off today from more strenuous hiking and a very pleasant one it was! :)
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Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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1 archive
Aug 07 2010
iborrego
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 Triplogs 348

27 male
 Joined Oct 13 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Aug 07 2010
iborrego
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles   3 Hrs      1.63 mph
1,285 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
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Jun 06 2009
iborrego
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 Triplogs 348

27 male
 Joined Oct 13 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Jun 06 2009
iborrego
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles   3 Hrs      1.63 mph
1,285 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
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Sep 05 2008
rwstorm
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 Guides 1
 Routes 125
 Photos 20,307
 Triplogs 920

72 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Wheeler Peak #62 - #90 ShuttleNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Sep 05 2008
rwstorm
Hiking10.80 Miles 3,661 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles
3,661 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Hike with some others from Tucson that we planned back in July. Broke my ankle August 6th coming down from Baldy Saddle on a Wrightson training hike for this one. Was able to go as planned, but we changed the route up to counter-clockwise to get to the peak in quickest way, then down the the Bull of the Woods route. Car shuttle helped. This was my third ascent of Wheeler.
Named place
Named place
Wheeler Peak Williams Lake
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3 archives
Jul 04 2006
slegal
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 Guides 74
 Routes 102
 Photos 2,962
 Triplogs 56

58 male
 Joined Jan 27 2007
 Thousand Oaks, C
Williams Lake from Upper TrailheadNorth Central, NM
North Central, NM
Hiking avatar Jul 04 2006
slegal
Hiking4.90 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles
1,285 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
As we drove up the road to Taos Ski Valley, we noticed yellow caution tape at every turn out. We arrived at the ski valley and went to the visitor center. We were advised that every trail in the Carson National Forest except the Williams Lake Trail was closed due to severe drought. That explained the caution tape, which acted as a trail head and campground closure. So up to Williams Lake we went.

The hike to and from the lake was much nicer than the lake itself. The lake level was quite low due to the drought and wasn't all that pretty. I didn't even photograph the lake, although I did take photos from above the lake.

As for the drought, our week in NM was a very wet week and the forest service opened all of their trails two days after we visited Taos.
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average hiking speed 1.87 mph

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.

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