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of the highest point in each of the 50 United States.
State Highpoints – New Mexico - 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak

New Mexico’s highest peak and the eighth highest US state summit, 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, is a popular summer hike in the southern Sangre Range east of Taos, New Mexico. You can hike Wheeler in a day from most northern New Mexico towns, but some people choose to backpack up to near Williams Lake at 11,100 feet to shorten the summit hike and ensure an early summit hour. There are two trails that reach Wheeler’s summit but the direct route up from near Williams Lake is considered the standard route. The second trail traverses the long ridge running north from Wheeler that crosses several other summits. That second trail requires a much longer and tougher hike. A few people choose to go up one trail, and down the other, but that requires a vehicle shuttle. The trailhead for the standard route via Williams Lake is at the southern end of the Taos Ski Area at 10,280 feet. Thus, the elevation gain from this trailhead to the summit is 2,900 feet, which is a smaller number than most other western state summits. It is an 8.4 mile round trip hike. On a sunny summer weekend, you may find 100 of your best friends on Wheeler’s summit. An Extra Credit summit is 13,140-foot Mount Walter, that is a short 200 yards north-northeast of the point where the Wheeler Trail reaches the ridge crest north of Wheeler’s summit. With only 80 feet of prominence, Walter is an unranked summit, but it is the second highest named peak in New Mexico. If you have more energy, you can also hike 0.7 mile south then southeast to reach 13,113-foot Old Mike Peak, another unranked peak, but the third highest named summit in New Mexico. This ridge traverse takes you over 12,976-foot Simpson Peak, another unranked but named summit. If you make the treks to both Walter and Old Mike, you will have bagged all of New Mexico’s Thirteeners near Wheeler. However you choose to use this area, you will have a good time. As always, start early to beat summer thunder storms.

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