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Wheeler Lake Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.0 (1)

Moderately trafficed out and back trail with stunning views and geologic formations ending at an unimpressive lake.


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Map Key

3.2

Miles

5.2

KM

76%

Runnable

8,770' 2,673 m

High

7,830' 2,387 m

Low

940' 287 m

Up

894' 272 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

33%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Geological Significance · Lake · Views · Wildflowers

Closed as of 9/10/2020 due to wild fires.

Need to Know

Parking is free, the closest toilets and water are at Lake Alpine. On busy weekends expect lots of traffic on the narrow road near the lake.

Runner Notes

Some difficult sections on the steep part leading down from the ridge and when the cattle are pressent the trail may have lots of loose rocks and may be hard to follow with "false" trails made by the cows.

Description

Starting at the Woodchuck Basin dirt parking area off Hwy 4, (elev. ~7800') the trail takes you through a nice wooded section opening up to great views of the cliff face of the ridge above. The next section is open and exposed but the well-marked trail allows easy ascent to the crest of the ridge with great views all around.

You then begin a steep descent to the lake and will likely encounter grazing cattle. I was surprised to learn that the area is used for summer pasture even though it's inside the Mokelumne Wilderness. Unless you enjoy lots of "cow pies" and running on torn up trails, the rest of this run may be a disappointment. And the cows are in the lake too, which might otherwise be an inviting place for a refreshing alpine swim.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, birds and chipmonks for sure. Deer and black bears possibly but most will avoid the area when the cattle and cowboys are around.

Shared By:

Keith Connor

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote

#2

in Bear Valley

#27540

Overall
  3.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Bear Valley

#3,198

in California

#27,540

Overall
17 Views Last Month
82 Since Sep 13, 2020
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Wooded area opens up revealing dramatic cliffs.
Sep 13, 2020 near South L…, CA
View of Wheeler Lake (before the cows arrive).
Sep 13, 2020 near South L…, CA
Wrong kind of "wildlife" for a Wilderness area IMHO.
Sep 13, 2020 near South L…, CA
Wheeler Lake trailhead.
Sep 13, 2020 near South L…, CA

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