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Wheeler Lake
Park County, Colorado
Pike National Forest
South Park Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map

Forest Service Road: 408
Trail Type: Out and Back
Nearby Towns: Breckenridge, Alma, Fairplay
Nearby Trails: Mosquito Pass
Trail Length: 3.13 miles
Elevation: 10,995 to 12,200 feet
Named Obstacles: Flopper, The V, Bowling Ball Hill

Recommended by AJ
Recommended by Holly
Recommended by Jim
Recommended by Todd

Wheeler Lake is one of those trails that has a little bit of everything. It has gorgeous scenery from the start at Montgomery Reservoir and the Magnolia Mill to the valley on the way to Wheeler Lake itself. Wheeler Lake is at the end of the trail, and it is surrounded on three sides by mountains forming part of the Continental Divide. It is a chilly lake at 12,200 feet. It seems to be raining on this trail most of the time, so prepare for lots of water.

The trail also has some 4x4 challenges that are very difficult for stock vehicles and provide lines that will make even a big rig have to work to climb.

As you start the trail you are next to Montgomery Reservoir, a beautiful place for fishing. The trail starts near a gorgeous waterfall, and you travel by and under the old Magnolia Mill right after you start the trail. The trail entrance is rocky, but there are bigger obstacles to come.

Flopper is the first obstacle and it is just past the Mill, and it has a bypass on the left. If you don't have an extreme amount of suspension flex you'll get a wheelstand here, and if you don't pick the right line it's pretty easy to end up flopped over on your side. Just make sure you don't put a rear tire in one of the many holes on the way to the top and you'll be fine.

The second obstacle is found a little further down the trail. The "V" is a wedgy made of rock and is the line on the right at this obstacle. You'll need to place your tires carefully or risk body damage. The line to the left is a series of sand-covered (or mud-covered), smooth rocks that are steep and can be difficult to climb. With a good spotter you can go up the left-most line and cross over to go up the V too. There is an easier line through the middle, between both of these options.

You'll then pass through the valley with low brush and trees scratching and scraping at your vehicle. If you're worried about your paint or plastic windows this isn't a good area to be in!

After the valley comes Bowling Ball Hill, a long, steep hill of loose rocks and boulders. The rocks change every year, and sometimes it can be pretty difficult to get to the top. When you get to the top there is a right turn, and you continue to climb through a rocky, narrow section.

Once you're at the top of the last bit of rocks you're nearly to Wheeler Lake, an area with plenty of room to park a lot of vehicles. It's a great place to explore.

Member Reports

Driving Directions

From I-70, exit on Route 9 south to Breckenridge. Go through the town on the main road and go up Hoosier Pass. Take Road 4 west to Montgomery Reservoir. The trail starts at the north end of the Reservoir.

From the south, take Highway 285 to Fairplay, then Route 9 north to Road 4 on the left, just after you start to climb up to Hoosier Pass.

Meeting Places

If you're taking I-70 meet at exit 234 at the Downieville Starbucks. If you want to take Highway 285, meet in Conifer at the Bradley gas station.

Low-End Rating: 5
High-End Rating: 7
Rock Crawling:
Dirt & Mud:
Water Crossings:
Cliffs & Ledges:
Climbs & Descents:
Other Activities:
What does this mean?

Trail Photographs

Magnolia Mill at the start of the trail The first obstacle Coming down the \
The \ Bowling Ball Hill Wheeler Lake

Maps and Coordinates
(Click a map to view full size)

Trail in Red
1200 x 500 pixels
336 KB

Wheeler Lake (GPS Exchange File)
Bolling Ball Hill (Google Earth Placemark)
Flopper (Google Earth Placemark)
Wheeler Lake Trailhead (Google Earth Placemark)
Magnolia Mill (Google Earth Placemark)
The V (Google Earth Placemark)
Wheeler Lake Track (Google Earth Track)
Wheeler Lake (Google Earth Placemark)

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Trail information is only accurate on the date posted. Trails may have changed or closed since that date. Use this information for historical purposes only. Contact the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management for up-to-date trail information.

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