Wheeler Peak Climbing Notes
Please submit any useful information about climbing Wheeler Peak that may be useful to other climbers. Consider things such as access and accommodation at the base of Wheeler Peak, as well as the logistics of climbing to the summit.
January 09, 2018
michael turri from United States
A friend of mine & I took the East Fork route out of Red River the first part of June in 2016. We started off at 7 am. Very pretty scenery the entire route. We crossed the stream that comes down out of Horseshoe Lake multiple times. You cannot drink this water no matter how wonderful it looks. We packed in our own water, about a gallon each. Next time we will bring water purification devices. We crossed this amazing scree field with calichi covered rocks that were just amazing in color. When we got to Horseshoe lake we took about a half hour break just to enjoy the scenery there. I tried fishing, but was not properly equipped. The water there is CRYSTAL clear and is supposedly still stocked by air. From Horseshoe we made the final ascent to Wheeler. I found this more strenuous than all the previous hiking. Once on top, we signed the book, took lots of pics and fought off the Marmots & other critters trying to make off with our lunch. We decided to try and shorten our descent by not taking the trail we had just come up from Horseshoe. We went over the top, so to speak. We took the ridgeline from Wheeler back down to Horseshoe. It saved us about 45 minutes, but it was sure tough on my knees. We made it back to the car at about 6 pm. I will admit, I was TIRED. I was 64 back then and in pretty good shape, but at almost 16 miles round trip, it was a day! Be sure you check the upcoming weather before you attempt any of the 4 different routes up. We really lucked-out and had nothing but blue skies and no wind. Not always the story up there as other posts have indicated. Again, PLENTY of water and lots of high energy snacks. Well worth the hike to see the views from up top.
May 28, 2015
Bob Ramar from United States
I was on Wheeler on Memorial Day. There is still a heavy snowpack hiking up from Taos Ski Valley to Williams Lake. It is frozen in the mornings, thawing by afternoon with occasional post holing. The mountain also has a heavy snowpack. I got to 11,600 ft with just hiking boots. I needed crampons and an ice axe for safety. Other folks I met did manage to summit earlier in the day.
September 11, 2014
Paul Lyons from United States
I climb Wheeler Peak from East Fork Red River. The hike is approximately 8.5 miles (17) from the trailhead in the Upper Red River Valley area. My wife and I leave at approximately 7 a.m. and day hike the 17 mile trail past Horseshoe Lake. It generally takes us until 4pm to get down off the mountain to the trailhead. It's a beautiful hike crossing creeks in several locations as it winds through the mountains. The trail begins at appx 9800' and climbs to 13,160 ( appx 3360' gain in elevation)at Wheeler Peak summit. Summer and early Fall best time to hike this trail.
April 27, 2014
Jacob Spring from United States
Three of us hiked the Williams Lake Trail on April 25th, 2014. It was a good thing we checked the forecast on this website as it was fairly accurate for the winds on the peak (roughly 30 mph sustained for a few minutes). The trail was snowy all the way up from the Bavarian. At times the snow was deeper than any of our hiking sticks could measure. In the morning the snow was packed hard enough to walk on, but by 3 p.m. on the descent we were plunging through. We did not have snowshoes which is obviously a bad choice in the conditions that day.
September 12, 2013
JB from United States
We went up in early May 2013 expecting a little bit of snow. There was a ton of snow all the way up the trail, Microspikes were key. We camped almost due west of Williams Lake in a nice open area with plenty of tree coverage to keep the wind off as much as possible. We slept on about 4 feet of snow, but luckily had a very small open area of rocks to sit on and get off the snow when we weren't climbing or sleeping. It got REALLY cold at night, around 8 or 9 F with windchill factored in. Its about a 2 hour climb up to the lake from the parking lot, not very tough or steep. I cant wait to do this climb next year, hopefully with less snow!
February 15, 2012
robert from United States
This is a class 1 walk up. There are two routes to take. Bull of the Woods Trail (8 mi one way) and the Williams Lake trail to the new Wheeler Peak Trail (4 mi one way, 2900 vertical feet). I did this hike in Sep 2011. Get an early start to avoid being caught above treeline in a thunderstorm. You'll reach treeline at about 11,500 ft and there is no cover after that. I encountered a very light dusting of snow above 12,500 ft all the way to the summit. You will cross talus slopes enroute to the summit if you take the new trail. At the very least, have a pack with the 10 essentials. There is no water along the route so bringing it beforehand is a must.