Wheeler Peak. Part of a designated wilderness area of Carson National Forest, this iconic mountain summit—New Mexico's highest, at 13,161 feet—can only be reached by a rigorous hike or horseback ride. The most popular and accessible trail to the peak is the Williams Lake Trail, which is about 8 miles round-trip and begins in Taos Ski Valley just east of the Bavarian lodge and restaurant. Only experienced hikers should tackle this strenuous trail all the way to the top, as the 4,000-foot elevation gain is taxing, and the final mile or so to the peak is a steep scramble over loose scree. However, for a moderately challenging and still very rewarding hike, you take the trail to the halfway point, overlooking the shores of rippling Williams Lake. Numerous other rewarding hikes of varying degrees of ease and length climb up the many slopes that rise from the village of Taos Ski Valley—check with rangers or consult the Carson National Forest website for details. Dress warmly even in summer, take plenty of water and food, and pay attention to all warnings and instructions distributed by rangers. Parking area for trailhead is along Kachina Rd. by the Bavarian lodge, Taos Ski Valley, Taos, New Mexico, 87525. 575/758–6200; www.fs.usda.gov/main/carson/home.

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