Wheeler Peak Trail

HARD 19 reviews
#1 of 12 trails in

Wheeler Peak Trail is a 8.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Baker, Nevada that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
8.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2936 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

Great Basin National Park is located in east central Nevada, five miles west of the town of Baker. The nearest airport is located in Ely, NV, 70 miles away, or Cedar City, Utah, 142 miles away. Major airports are found in Salt Lake City, Utah (234 miles) and Las Vegas, Nevada (286 miles). From the east or west: From U.S. Highway 6 & 50, turn south on Nevada State Highway 487 and travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park. From the south (Utah): Travel north on Utah State Highway 21 through Milford, UT and Garrison, UT, which will become Nevada State Highway 487 as you cross the border. Turn west on Highway 488 in Baker and travel 5 miles to the park. From the south (Nevada): Travel north on U.S. Highway 93 (Great Basin Highway). At the junction of U.S. Highway 6 & 50 drive east to Nevada State Highway 487 and turn south. Travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park. Public Transportation No public transportation is available to, or in, Great Basin National Park. Trailhead is near the end of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive: http://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/wheeler-peak-scenic-drive.htm. If you reach the end of the summit drive, you missed the Summit parking lot, which is a separate parking lot. Note you can take a longer hike from the end of the road parking lot. For more info: http://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/directions.htm

hiking
4 days ago

Spring route itinerary (see photo for approx trail),
nicer option is to park at Lehman Creek.
Really good for feeling alone at the middle of nowhere!
Note: Consult current conditions with a ranger grba_interpretation@nps.gov

The 1h warmup was a gentle road closed due to snow.

Then I’ve tried to follow the trail and failed. But that’s ok, as everything was covered in snow anyway. Before going sharply up, I’ve reached a lake with a stream and filtered some water. While enjoying the calm meadow, I've realized my big mistake. Looking from the parking lot, my theory was to climb the mountain on the exposed rocks instead of the snow - so I left my crampons, ice-axe and snow shoes in the car.
In practice, climbing the loose rock would be strenuous, so I’ve decided to walk up a big snow patch in a slab. Luckily wasn't too steep, snow was melted and stiff just right to make safe steps. Still, I made sure I can stop from sliding down too excitingly either by braking or hitting a rock pitch. In conclusion, it was a mistake and should’ve brought my gear.

So I was steadily climbing up, 10,000ft, 11,000ft … and the elevation hit me at this point. It resulted in a considerable slowdown - was able to make maybe 20 steps after a 30sec+ pause. But I was committed, persisted and slowly, I've reached the ridge.
Half of ridge-to-peak was super ok, big rocks, even exposed trail. The other half, steeper hike just before the peak felt a little dangerous, as falling to the right would result into a 500m slide (maybe stoppable, but wouldn't risk), while falling on left might be ok, but after ~20m, there was a big cliff.
In this moment your brain autoplays all similar experiences and what went wrong. For example when you were climbing Triglav and slipped, when your friend slid and died or the movie "80m below the peak", where they decided to turn back after days of climbing just below the dreaded K2 (that was a good decision).
Caring this in my mind and confirming that sticking to the big rocks is safe, I’ve decided it will be fine up. Had a snack, looked down, said "oh shit" and started climbing carefully down. Thanked God when reached the lower ridge.
After the surface evened out, it was a pretty fun down. I just slid the whole snowy slab in ~15 minutes (going up took me well over 2h).

As my time was fine, I've decided to take the adventurous route back, i.e. go straight back. While walking on snow, it was fast. Crossed the official trail and decided not to take it. But then I reached some nasty bushes and even if following trails of wildlife, I just couldn't fit through the dense grow. So I had to back up a lot, go around, found some nice patches and then seeing the parking lot, I’ve thought: “How the hell will I get up?”
Decided on a way I thought is doable, and halfway up I've reached an unofficial human trail.

hiking
8 days ago

16 days ago

24 days ago

27 days ago

7 months ago

This was definitely one the most interesting mountains I've summitted. From the bristlecone forests in the first two miles of the hike to the last rocky mile, there was always something to be amazed by on this trail.

The wind as you cross into the rocky last section of the trail is brutal, and you will want at least 3 layers to protect yourself from wind chill. Currently, there is a bit of snow approaching the summit, but the trail is still fairly clear. Keep this in mind when preparing for this hike, though - added with the wind, I wished that I had brought gloves and a hat.

At about 1 mile into the hike, the trail splits off - one way towards the summit, the other towards Stella Lake (only .1 miles away). If you have a few minutes to spare, check it out, it's gorgeous. I went around 7:30 and the lake was partially frozen over. As the trail to the summit climbs, you can actually see Stella Lake from above, and from the summit you can see all 3 alpine lakes.

There and back, the hike took me about 7 hours (that's including the Stella Lake detour, lunch at the summit, and plenty of picture taking time). Very worth it, and a must do in Great Basin.

hiking
9 months ago

Really rewarding hike. It would be smart to bring a jacket because after the first mile or so it gets really windy. Trailhead starts at an elevation around 10,000 ft and climbs to over 13,000. The Altitude is definitely what makes this hike so challenging

hiking
11 months ago

11 months ago

Overall, an excellent hike. First 3 miles are quite gradual and offer a fantastic view of the surrounding valley. However, after crossing the tree line, wind picks up quite suddenly. Last mile is very steep. I'd tell everyone to make sure to turn back as soon as the weather turns. Chances of lightning strikes are very real.

hiking
Saturday, June 27, 2015

One of the greatest experiences of my life. The hike itself is not exceedingly difficult; most of the grades are moderate, though it gets a bit steep right at the top (100 yards). The altitude is what makes the climb difficult. Most people have never been this high (the trail starts at 10,000') and altitude sickness is a concern. The wind can get really strong after you make the ridge leading to the summit; we ended up with windburn on our faces. The view from the top is indescribable; you can see the curvature of the earth! Also be aware that snow stays on the mountain deep into summer.

hiking
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Awesome hike! I've never been that high before, so the views were amazing. It was pretty strenous once you are above the treeline though, but the views are definitely worth it.

hiking
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seriously the coolest trail I have hiked yet! Took my 11 year old daughter and she hiked it like a champ. The beginning is nice and easy to the lake. Back track .1 miles after the lake and take the peak trail up. Still an easy hike through the trees and grassy area. Then back into the trees one last time and you are overlooking Stella Lake from a few hundred feet above. Breaking through the trees you enter the barren rocky areas. You'll come up the steep incline with a mile left and think your almost there.......but your not. You crest the first rocky area and it opens up to the peak. Still climbing you can start to see how steep the final push is going to be. There is a nice flat area right before the final climb with good sized wind breaks dotting the trail. The last push looks like a half mile scramble but it's not. It's actually a series of short switchbacks (very short). We started late and got to the last 100 yards before the thunderstorms began crashing lightning and hail all around us. So we didn't get to stay at the top. Big if was worth the hike. The views from the last push are incredible! This is a short trail measuring in at 4.3 miles in one direction. So if altitude sickness doesn't bother you and you want an excellent summit, this is your trail. You can scramble on another .70 miles (or so and hit Jeff Davis peak (directly in front of Wheeler - 3rd highest peak in the state). You make the turn on Bald mountain in the grassy area. So many beautiful views in this trail. Outstanding trail - enjoy. Also hit the Mathis Overlook on the drive up/down for a great photo vantage point and a clean restroom. Just remember to start early die to the afternoon thunderstorms!

hiking
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

hiking
Sunday, August 04, 2013

Hiked Wheeler Peak last July. Difficult but rewarding trail. The last mile up is steep and challenging. High altitude, so go prepared. 360° views are stunning on a clear, sunny day.
Saw a beautiful elk above tree line

hiking
Friday, August 02, 2013

A great hike up the 2nd highest peak in Nevada. The views are stunning.

hiking
Monday, July 15, 2013

Hiked the peak on July 8th with my geology class from pasadena CA. Started out early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms, The trail starts out very mellow with a gentle incline leading through some grassy meadows. Flowers were in full bloom and we passed many chipmunks and a pair of deer. About 2 miles in, the grade increases and the real climb begins. Very windy and pretty cold on the way up through the loose talus. The trail is easy to follow and well maintained. Altitude was a difficulty for sure but slow and steady was the recipe for the day. All 9 of us made it to the summit. It rained a bit right as we got to the top, so we took some photos, signed the log book and headed back down. All in all, a fun trail that was a good challenge. Scenery was amazing and well worth it if you are in the area.

hiking
Sunday, December 09, 2012

Beautiful view from the top. The trail probably isn't normally difficult but we happened to do it after the first snow of the season with for kids ages 6 to 10. There was between 6 and 18 inches of snow. All of us made it but the kids had some difficulty. The high elevation didn't seem to affect us much but is something you should always be conscious of at high elevation. We linked it and had no wind and mostly a sunny day. All in all I have to say I love this trail.

hiking
Monday, October 15, 2012

hiking
Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Great Basin is out of the way, but awesome. See some of the oldest trees and the world. This was a great hike with excellent views. Windy near the top, but well worth it as you top out at 13000 feet.