Wheeler Lake is an incredibly scenic and historical recreation trail. The path is open to vehicles, hikers and bikers and ends at a stunning body of water…Wheeler Lake.
Where is Wheeler Lake Trail?
One of the great things about this trail is the ease of accessibility. Located on the south side of Hoosier Pass you can reach the primary parking area with any type of passenger vehicle. The primary parking area is located at Montgomery Reservoir which can be seen from Hwy 9 as you approach Hoosier Pass. Beware, this is a popular area and parking can be limited. Be sure to get there early to secure a spot. Especially if you’re bringing a trailer!
If you’re heading North on Hwy 9 you’ll take a left onto CR-4. CR-4 intersects Hwy 9 in two different places but either entrance will get you to the parking area. At the parking area you can stage up or leave vehicles behind if necessary. You can also hang out here for awhile and do some fishing at the beautiful Montgomery Reservoir!
How Difficult is Wheeler Lake Trail?
The overall trail is not super difficult but there are a couple of obstacles that will challenge even heavily modified vehicles. The first obstacle hits early. After you pass under the very cool old mine structure there’s a rock obstacle that can get quite technical! You’ll need a modified vehicle to get over the first obstacle. Depending on the weather you might need lockers or a winch. There are several different lines up this obstacle so walk it first to be sure you find the one most suitable line for your rig.
Once you pass the first obstacle it’s mostly easy going. You can make some challenges on “Bowling Ball Hill” but if you’ve got a decently modified rig (at least 33’s) you shouldn’t have any issues getting all the way to the lake. Bowling Ball Hill is the final rocky ascent before plateauing near Wheeler Lake. It’s a steep climb and if there’s any snow or rain it could be tricky.
High points of Wheeler Lake Trail
There are great things to see and explore along Wheeler Lake Trail. You’ll find meadows covered in wildflowers, beautiful stream beds full of lush vegetation and wildlife, stunning views of surrounding high mountain peaks, and vast views in several directions as you approach the top of the trail. There are remnants of old mines in the sides of the hills. It’s incredible to imagine that people would take horses, mules and carriages up this path.
Of course the main finale of this beautiful ride is Wheeler Lake itself. A small but stunning body of water. Great to cool off on a hot day or pull out your coolers and lunches for some chilling. The tributaries that flow into the lake from above are serene to look at and peaceful to listen to. There are two bodies of water above Wheeler Lake that can be hiked to and this is the headwaters of the Middle Fork – South Platte River.
What To Bring To Wheeler Lake
This recreation area is chalk full of great things to do! I recommend bringing some fishing gear (fly or tenkara might be best), food and beverages for a half days worth of fun, a chair to relax in by the lakeside, and of course your camera and binoculars. If you have a GPS with waypoints loaded it can help point our near by remains of mines you may not see without knowing they are there. I use the Garmin GPSMAP 66. The version I’ve linked here has Garmin’s TOPO maps installed but you can also get a chip and you ONX Mapping which has features the Garmin maps do not have.
Here are links to the other gear mentioned here!
Wheeler Lake Trail is definitely one you need to put on your list of visits. It’s quintessential Colorado! With it’s beautiful mountain streams, high mountain lakes, steep rocky peaks, and rocky difficult trail you just simply cannot go wrong. I rank this as one of the most scenic 4 wheel drive trails in the state. You’re close to Breckenridge, Colorado so once you’ve finished the trail you can head over the pass and kill some time in Breck. Or, if you prefer you can do some camping along the trail and stay a night or two! If you’re going to camp be prepared for any type of whether. The Rockies have a unique way of shifting weather in an instant and you could get caught off guard if you do not have the right gear. Be sure to check out our blog about the necessary gear you should have if you’re going to stay overnight on a trail like Wheeler Lake!
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