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“Via Bull of the Woods and Williams Lake”

Ranked #41 of 145 things to do in Taos County
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Owner description: Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, this wilderness area includes Wheeler Peak, which is the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet in height.
Reviewed 22 June 2013

A superb hike especially in June when the wildflowers are in abundance. Hiked on Jun 22 starting from the Bull-of-the-Woods trailhead, elevation just under 9500'. Much of the lower section of the hike is in the woods and follows old roads thus the trail is wide. Once the trail nears La Cal basin you're above timberline with superb views with a single trail track. Snow was still present in places too. Enroute to Wheeler peak you will pass Mount Walter at an elevation of 13,133'. Continuing on the trail I saw two Bighorn Sheep grazing on the slope below. As you near Wheeler you will see a cairn which marks the trail junction with Williams Lake. Mount Wheeler was crowded despite the fierce cool wind. About 20 people were sitting around attempting to hide from the wind while they enjoyed a bite of food. On the return trip I took the Williams Lake route which descends via switchbacks of scree. Footing can be tricky in places so do pay attention. Saw two Marmots on the way down plus plenty of wildflowers. The trailhead for Williams Lake is around 10,250'. Since my car was at the Twinning parking lot next to the Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead I had to walk about two miles down a dirt road. Total distance was around 14 miles which took 7 hours. The Bull-of-the-Mountain trail route is around 7.5 miles (length varies with the source) while the Williams Lake portion is 4.1 miles. Most people take the Williams Lake trail as its much shorter and starts out at a higher elevation. Trail is steep though once you start the switchbacks above Williams Lake plus much of the trail is nothing more than packed scree. Pavement ends at the Twinning parking lot next to Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead so anyone heading up to the Williams Lake parking lot will have to drive up a well-maintained dirt road for about 2 miles.

As a side note I would ask visitors to stay on the trails. Not only is it safer but it prevents scarring the landscape. High elevation tundra has a very short growing season thus damage takes several years to repair. I mention this because I happen to witness a dozen University of Alabama students cutting across a large swath of La Cal basin - "pioneering" their own trail in order to avoid the switchbacks of the trail.

2  Thank ABQresident505
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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41 - 45 of 68 reviews

Reviewed 14 May 2013

Loved the hike to New Mexico's highpoint. There are two routes, and we took the shorter, but steeper, William's Lake Trail, thanks to the good advice of an expert climber who bartends at the Sagebrush Inn. He gave us great advice: Would do this trail again! The view from the top was fabulous!

Thank saphronie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2013

A local hiking buddy took me up this trail until the snow become too much (about 3 miles, I'd guess) in early May. It is a nice trail, that follows and crosses the creek (there are numerous creek crossing; we had poles and I'm glad we did. Maybe later in the season the creek is lower. However, there certainly were rocks and logs to step on to cross, but you want to be confident about your footing and have waterproof shoes -- my boots were perfect). The forest has a mix of aspen, white fir, doug fir, scrub maple. We made it past the granite outcroppings and scambled up for a view down the vailey across to some far distant mountains. If you are a confident hiker, I'd recommend this. it was a little early for wildflowers. Well, it snowed on us on the way back. No one else on the trail - ah! Note: There is a $4 / person fee that is charged bgore the trailhead. Watch for the permit sign.

Thank Evan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2013

This is the biggest and the best of the NM rockies. In July, e have gone from the desert clime of the Rio Grande Gorge to still snow covered alpine areas of Wheeler.

3  Thank Sweeniesdad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2013

You must make this a must see if in area in October. Unbelievable color. If you are into photography, this is an incredible opportunity to take breathtaking pictures

2  Thank Shermanator118
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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