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Williams Lake Trail #62

 5 votes

Length

3.8 Miles 6.1 Kilometers


Elevation

960' 293 m

Ascent

-959' -292 m

Descent

10%

Avg Grade (5°)

35%

Max Grade (19°)

11,114' 3,388 m

High

10,201' 3,109 m

Low

Conditions


Minor Issues 84 days ago
Snowpacked, moderate avalanche danger History

Getting forecast...

A short and popular trail that has significant elevation gain. It is great for a quick out and back!

Bob Mosher

Overview

Most of this trail is within the Wheeler Peak Wilderness—no mechanized equipment, drones etc.
This trail takes you from the upper base of Taos Ski Valley to a popular scenic lake, about half way to the summit of Wheeler Peak. Although a relatively easy hike, there is almost 1,000 ft. of elevation gain along the 2 miles
Features: Birding — Cave — Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Spring — Swimming — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife — Commonly Backpacked
Family Friendly: Easy access and moderate terrain, plus the views are amazing.

Need to Know

Although it's graded, the road to the trailhead is steep and often snowpacked during winter; 4 wheel drive is recommended

Winter travelers should be aware of the avalanche hazards along the trail, debris may be present during Spring and early Summer. As of 2018 there is no official avalanche forecasting center for this area, the Northern New Mexico Avalanche Exchange is a public forum where useful information can be found and shared:NNMAE.org

During summer 2018 the Phoenix Lodge is being rebuilt, expect to encounter construction sites and possible route alterations to access the trail.

Description

From the parking lot the trail passes the Bavarian Lodge at the bottom of Lift 4 and follows the east side of Lake Fork Creek across private land for approximately a half mile. After passing the lift, continue onto an old road leading south (to the right of a private driveway), follow this for a few hundred feet then look for the trail branching to the left just past a small stream. The next quarter mile is an old road grade covered with loose rocks. There's a sign for Williams Lake where the trail leaves private land and enters the Carson National Forest, the Wheeler Peak Wilderness boundary is a little ways further.

The route begins in Engelmann spruce stands, crosses a series of open avalanche paths and near the upper end opens up into meadowland and scattered rock fields before reaching a saddle above the lake at the junction with the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67.

Williams Lake is a natural glacial lake which does not have fish because it freezes during winter. Camping and campfires are not permitted along the lake's shore to prevent damage to soil and water quality, per Wilderness Area protocol select a campsite at least 300 feet from streams, springs, and lakes. There are some good sites along the forest on the southwest side of the lake, and a primitive trail leading to a waterfall.

History & Background

During the late 1800's prospectors discovered gold and copper in this area, William Frazer began mining in Twining which produced modest amounts of sulfide ores into the early 1900's. A small mine is found on the east side of the lake, longtime locals say that Frazer worked this mine by hand until the gold was played out. Although there is no documentation of this prospect site, the earliest references to Williams Lake were from this time. There is debate among local historians about whether the lake is named for Frazer, or for Bill Williams who was most likely a fictional character attributed to stories throughout the Rocky Mountains of an early 1800's trapper.

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Check-Ins

May 20, 2018
Daylene York
4mi
Apr 26, 2018
Rachel Comp
Oct 17, 2017
Glen Roland
Aug 31, 2017
Robert Beasley
Aug 10, 2017
Steve N
Got there early. Went up Wheeler. Took one hour from the parking lot to the tree line 7.8mi
Jul 21, 2017
Kyle Wheatley
Wonderful trail to the beautiful lake. Great camping possibilities. 3.8mi
May 31, 2017
Paul Iverson
3.8mi
Apr 6, 2017
Reubadubah Reubadubah
Car camped near bavarian lodge. Attempted Wheeler Peak but without snow shoes, had to turn around just above tree line. Great adventure!

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes

#2132

Overall
  4.0 from 5 votes
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Rankings

#23

in New Mexico

#2,132

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204 Views Last Month
1,637 Since Oct 25, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate

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