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One route to the top of this massive mountain and back is 6.2 miles; the other is 8 miles longer. If you have the time, take the more scenic 14.2-mile Bull-of-the-Woods Trail, which starts at Twining Campground near Taos Ski Valley and winds along open ridge for 5 miles. If you have less time (and more oomph), the shorter, steeper hike begins in the parking lot near the Phoenix Restaurant and cruises past the Kachina Chairlift to Williams Lake. Then brace yourself for a lung-searing schlep up the talus-strewn slope to the ridge between Mt. Walter and Wheeler Peak. Either way, you’ll see scores of cheeky marmots and, if you’re lucky, bighorn sheep and golden eagles.
Elevation: 13,161 feet
Contact: Questa Ranger District, Carson National Forest, (505) 586-0520
USGS Topo: Wheeler Peak
Eat: Eske’s Brew Pub, Taos, (505) 758-1517
Sleep: The Abominable Snowmansion Hi-Taos Hostel and Classic Ski Lodge
Inn, Taos, (505) 776-8298
Gear: Taos Mountain Outfitters, Taos, (505) 758-9292