Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Hike to Williams Lake and Wheeler Peak

Originally added by Brian Heifferon

Bag New Mexico’s highest peak at 13,161 feet.It’s either a 4-mile hike to the alpine lake, or a 7-mile round trip hike to the peak.The lake’s beautiful and is a perfect spot to fuel up before tackling the peak.

This hike is conveniently located at Taos Ski Valley and offers two primary options: a fun 4-mile round trip hike to beautiful Williams Lake, or a 7-mile round trip hike all the way to the Wheeler Peak. You can’t go wrong with either option, but if you’re up for it, bagging Wheeler Peak is definitely worth the extra effort.

The trail to Williams Lake parallels the Lake Fork of the Rio Hondo and gradually ascends 2-miles through forests towards the lake. Once you arrive at Williams Lake, take some time to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountain range and this stunning high alpine lake. This is a perfect opportunity to dip you feet in the water and enjoy a little picnic.

Still have a little bit of gas left in your tank? Continue up the Williams Lake Trail above the lake and you’ll begin to a pretty steep climb up 2,000 vertical feet. This trail has been recently upgraded and now features a nice switch back route to the peak. And the views from the peak are well worth the extra work.

Be sure to check the weather and pack/dress appropriately. The area can be prone to thunderstorms and late season snowfall.

After you’ve bagged New Mexico’s highest peak, celebrate with a beer on the back deck the Bavarian Lodge, conveniently located at the trailhead entrance.

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Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

Solitude on a Weekday evening

We hiked this on a Thursday evening and only saw a few other people. About a mile of the trail in the forest before the lake is still very snowy but doable in trail running shoes. The lake was still mostly frozen, not much green around it, but still pretty. This would definitely be an amazing place to catch an intense sunrise/sunset.

hike the Williams lake

Such a good hike! If your looking for an interesting twist to this beautiful hike, give it a go in mid winter(make sure there is plenty of snow). You can attempt without snowshoes but just make sure to not step off the hard pack or you will find yourself knee deep in snow. The views of the snow covered lake are absolutely beautiful!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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