Wheeler Lake

Alma, Colorado (Park County)

Last Updated: 10/30/2021
4.6 / 5 ( 11 reviews )
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Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 3.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 12190 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Alma
Nearest Town w/ Services: Fairplay
Official Road Name: 408
Management Agency: Pike National Forest
District: South Park Ranger District


Highlight: Wheeler Lake
When you think of Colorado offroading, what do you think of? Maybe majestic snowcapped peaks, fields of wildflowers lined with pine trees, or crystal-clear mountain lakes? Well, if you have the rig to do it, Wheeler Lake checks all of those boxes! Located in the Pike National Forest, Wheeler Lake is the quintessential Colorado high-altitude offroad adventure. From the towering peaks (some of which are 14ers) that surround you as you ascend a thick and lush vegetated valley to the mining remnants from the past, Wheeler Lake will have you and your passengers looking out the windows in every direction right from the get-go. Although the scenery along the way will pull your attention away from the trail, don't let it - this trail has a few tricky obstacles that will give mildly built rigs a run for their money, and even very built rigs will have an opportunity to really stretch out. Flopper, V-Notch, and Bowling Ball Hill are all aptly named obstacles that will stand in your way before your final ascent up to Wheeler Lake. At the end of this trail, you will be experiencing Colorado at its finest - a picturesque, crystal-clear mountain lake fed by snowmelt from the surrounding peaks, all within reach of your offroad rig, of course. Bring your family, bring your friends. Wheeler Lake is one of those trails that, if it's not on your Colorado bucket list, it needs to be.


Route Information

Technical Rating


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1. Trailhead - Wheeler Lake (0 mi)
Wheeler Lake begins at the edge of Montgomery Reservoir. The road is fairly wide here and allows for plenty of space to air-down and prepare for the rocky journey ahead. If you trailer your trail vehicle, there is some limited space here for trailer parking.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Fairplay, Colorado

Head North on Colorado Highway 9 for 10.3 miles to Park County Road 4 (Just past the town of Alma, CO). Turn left onto Park County Road 4 for .5 miles where you will find Montgomery Reservoir. Wheeler Lake begins to the right on the northwest side of the reservoir. The trailhead is not well marked. From Breckenridge, CO: Head south on Colorado Highway 9 for about 10 miles to Park County Road 4. Turn right onto Park County Road 4 for .5 miles to Montgomery Reservoir. Wheeler Lake begins to the right on the northwest side of the reservoir. The trailhead is not well marked.



Trail Reviews (30)

Questions & Answers (8)

Q: Am I crazy thinking a stock JL Rubicon Unlimited on 33's could make it through the first 2 large obstacles taking the easiest lines? I'm sick of hiking this trail.
–Josh Spring (05/22/2020)
–Ryan Boudreau (05/27/2020)
Q: Any recent updates on Wheeler? We'd like to try it tomorrow with 7 Jeeps. We know the trail well and are a little concerned about not being able to turn 7 of us around if snow blocks us. Any info would be appreciated... Thanks!
–Shawna (07/18/2019)
–Shawna (07/18/2019)
–Ryan Boudreau (07/18/2019)
Q: Is camping allowed at the lake?
–Justin Bedard (07/10/2019)
–Ryan Boudreau (07/11/2019)
Q: I was looking to do this trail some time this summer, has anyone been up there lately or know the status of the trail? Thanks, Luke
–Luke (04/23/2019)
–Ryan Boudreau (04/25/2019)
Q: Could a lifted f150 on 35's make it up this trail or is that crazy?
–Nick Obletz (09/28/2018)
–Ryan Boudreau (10/09/2018)
Q: I have a Cherokee XJ w/ 5 inch lift, 31's, open diffs (well, lsd in the rear). Not afraid of a bump or bruise. Any chance I'll be able to make it up this? I've done trails rated at 6 without ever needing to winch, but never a 7.
–Brian Spittell (07/25/2018)
–Gerrad Reynolds (08/05/2018)
–Lauren Martin (07/26/2018)
–Chris K (07/26/2018)
–Alex (07/25/2018)
Q: Does anyone know the status of this trail? Looking to possibly make the trip in the beginning of June, will it still be snowed in?
–Christian Gies (05/28/2018)
–Lauren Martin (06/10/2018)
Q: Any news on this trail for this year yet?
–Colin (06/22/2017)
–Colin (06/25/2017)
–Lauren Martin (06/25/2017)

Writer Information

Tim Palmer

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tim lives and works in Northern Colorado. He has owned and driven 4X4 vehicles his entire adult life including Jeeps, pick ups, ATVs and UTVs. After high school, Tim's first 4X4 was a 47 Willy's CJ-2A with a flat 4 and a 6-volt electrical system. Typically wheeling in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, Tim loves being in the mountains and the back country. Because of a desire to enjoy and promote responsible off-roading and to keep it available for the future, he belongs to a local 4X4 off-road club. Being part of the Trailsoffroad.com community furthers that goal as well. A love for off-road adventures, camping, fishing, and hunting keeps Tim away from pavement and always exploring. While his wife likes the comfort of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Tim prefers the ruggedness of the Jeep Wrangler. Although most off-road time is spent in Colorado and Wyoming, an occasional trip to the Moab area is common. Tim will spend the summer going topless and enjoying the value of the great outdoors. Amateur Radio Technician license call sign: ke0npg
For individual use only, not to be shared.