“A beautiful trail leading through alpine forests and meadows to the summit of Wheeler Peak.
— Jason Ethridge
Birding · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is closed in the winter, usually from November to June.
From the trailhead, follow the trail southwest through quaking aspen and mixed conifers. After opening onto an alpine meadow and joining into the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail
for a short stretch, the trail separates and heads north toward Bald Mountain.
After turning west to ascend the ridge that runs between Wheeler Peak and Bald Mountain, the trail turns south and heads toward the final destination. Enjoy this last stretch of conifer forest as the timberline approaches fast. Once you leave the trees behind, the trail begins a series of switchbacks, through a fellfield, until attaining the shoulder of the final ridge.
Here you can appreciate the vistas; from southwest, around to west, and all the way to the northeast. The wind tends to be substantial along this ridge, which is why you'll see periodic windbreaks that have been built from rocks along this section of the trail. This is the point from which the summit is visible in front of you, and it seems so near! Alas, it is also the point that the trail begins getting steeper and steeper as it approaches the top. There are some switchbacks in the final stretch, but since snow is common at this point until August, it is easy to lose the trail and just scramble up the rocks till you summit.