Wheeler Peak Trail #90
ElevationAscent: 3,980' 1,213 m
Descent: -324' -99 m
High: 13,147' 4,007 m
Low: 9,491' 2,893 m
GradeAvg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“A spectacular long distance hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak, elev. 13,161 ft., the highest point in New Mexico!”— Chamber TSV
If you have two vehicles, park one at the Williams Lake trailhead which will eliminate the last two-mile hike to the base area.
The trail follows the East Fork of the Rio Hondo for approx. 2 miles to Bull of the Woods Pasture. At approximately .6 miles the junction with Long Canyon Trail (#63) is on the left. Not far from this point the trail becomes wide enough for 4x4 vehicle use as this section is a seldom used USFS access road.
Approx. 2 miles up, the trail turns right and crosses the head of the Hondo Creek at Bull of the Woods Pasture. From here to Frazer Mountain the trail passes through private land. Please be courteous, do not camp, and do not stray off the trail/road. Half a mile past the creek lies a beautiful overlook. The road portion of the trail ends at a saddle below Bull of the Woods Mountain summit, at approx. 3.2 miles. This section offers beautiful views looking west and down on the ski valley and the Taos Mesa.
USFS trail signs are at the saddle. This is not yet halfway to Wheeler Peak. This area has some stunning views and is a good place to turn around if you need too. The trail is very well-defined heading south from the saddle. At Frazer Mountain, the trail enters Wheeler Peak Wilderness and descends into La Cal Basin, which offers camping and an opportunity to rest before starting the final ascent to Wheeler Peak. The Peak is the highest point in New Mexico, elev. 13,161 ft. No technical climbing gear is needed. The summit of Wheeler Peak is "the top of the world" and on a clear day the view in all directions is spectacular.
For a loop hike, descend the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail (#67) to Williams Lake Trail (#62) which is 4.2 miles. From the Phoenix Grill at Chair 4, descend along Rubezahl return ski trail to the base area which is 2 miles. Total trip distance for this loop is 13.5 miles. Allow at least 9 hours.
The Bavarian is located here and a great place for a post-hike refuel of authentic German food and beer. The deck scene at the "Bav" is legendary!
In the base area is the Stray Dog Cantina. Another great place for a post-hike refuel. Serving delicious Northern New Mexican specialties, burgers and strong margaritas.
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Land Manager: USFS - Carson National Forest