From Red River, take NM 578 (old NM 150) southwest approximately six miles to the end of the pavement. Turn left to go to the East Fork trailhead.Follow Forest Road 58A for approximately 1 mile. There is a small parking area at the trailhead.
The route is generally easy to follow and has a very gentle grade for the first five miles from the trailhead to Horseshoe Lake. The trailhead is at approximately 9,600 feet.
The trail begins heading south along the East Fork of the Red River through mature pine and fir mixed with aspen. At approximately mile three, the trail turns to the west. You will be on private property until you enter the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area approximately 3 1/2 miles into the hike. The wilderness boundary is marked with a sign. After entering the wilderness, it is approximately 1 mile to the junction of the East Fork and Lost Lake trails. Turn left to continue on the East Fork trail.
From the junction the trail becomes steeper and rockier. Approximately 1/2 mile from the junction, the trail enters a basin and you can see Horseshoe Lake, elevation 11,950. Take a break here and enjoy the scenery. Marmots and gound squirrels will get into you gear here if it is not attended.
From Horseshoe lake, the trail turns south over the ridgeline and climbs slowly along the east side of the ridgeline from approximately 12,200 to 12,900 on ridgeline between Wheeler Peak and Simpson Peak. The trail then makes a sharp right turn and ascends the the eastern edge of the ridge east of Wheeler Peak. The trail turns west and tees into another trail. Turn left, ascend the descend and ascend again to the summit of Wheeler Peak, 13,161. After gaining the ridge between Simpson Peak and Wheeler Peak, the USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle map does not show the trail to the summit correctly. If a right turn is made at the tee, Mount Walter can be summitted after a brief descent and ascent. The distance between Horseshoe Lake and the summit is approximately 2 1/2 miles.
To descend, you can follow the trail. An alternate descent is to follow the ridgeline north to Mount Walter and descend to Horseshoe Lake via the the ridge running east.
During the summer, thunderstorms are always a risk in the Sangre de Cristo range. Bring raingear and be off of the summit by noon. Due to the 15 mile round trip, an early start is essential.
Fall may come early to the Sangre de Cristos with snowfall, cold temperatures, and high winds as soon as early September.
During the spring, snow may be on the trail as late as the middle of June depending on the winter snowfall. Check with the Questa Ranger District for current trail conditions in the Carson National Forest and the Wheeler Peak Wilderness. It may be advisable to carry snowshoes, ice axes, and/or crampons early in the season.
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