The highest peak in New Mexico offers a challenging and rewarding summit opportunity.

Mount Wheeler is the highest peak in New Mexico at 13,161 feet and is considered the 8th highest state peak.

The hike begins just over 10,000 feet near the Bavarian Restaurant. Drive past the Taos Ski Resort and follow the signs for the restaurant until the road ends.

The 6.2 mile trek begins at the trailhead for Williams Lake, an easy out-and-back trail. Around the 1.8 mile mark of the hike you will come upon Williams Lake (elevation 11,040) and from there follow the signs for Wheeler Peak.

If planning to hike in late fall or early spring, check snowfall before hiking. The trail past the lake is only marked on trees for the first .3 miles. If the trail is covered in snow it will be nearly impossible to follow. This happened to our group, which resulted in a straight-up climb for the peak in about two feet of snow.

In the summer, this trail would be rated intermediate. If attempting a winter summit, I believe it is considered advanced with crampons and poles recommended.  

There are many big horned sheep in the area, which mostly hang out near the summit. From the top you'll receive an incredible 360 view of Northern New Mexico. Don't forget to put your name in the log book on the summit.

The hike to Williams Lake is quite popular all year, however the trail to Wheeler Peak remains much less crowded. It's a great hike that will leave you feeling a bit sore but highly rewarded.  

Pack List

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Wind jacket
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Hiking Poles (winter)
  • Crampons (winter)  
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RT Distance 6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 3083 Feet
Activities Snowshoeing, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Backpacking

I went with a small group on the backside of this mountain, we took a two day hike up and one day hike down this mountain. The views while climbing this mountain were beautiful and breathe taking. I highly recommend this climb to everyone!

Great snowshoeing

We did this summit in snowshoes on an insane powder day. In the middle of December, we were waist deep in powder once above treeline even with snowshoes on. Absolutely amazing hike. Be sure to have sunglasses and ample food and water. Winter conditions make it a whole new game from the more relaxed warmer summits, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Epic hike - well worth it.

We did this hike in mid-fall in early October. There was a little bit of snow in places but it was still passable. Including the detour to Williams Lake all in all I tracked the trip to be just over 8 miles. Some stretches can be a little challenging due to some loose scree but its mostly a well marked trail. I'd agree if it was covered in snow it'd be harder to follow. If you're at Williams Lake and have the time and fitness you should seriously consider this summit.


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