Directions: From Frisco head west on I-70 to exit 195 for Copper Mountain. There are two parking options. You can park at Copper Mountain Ski Resort and walk along the highway and pedestrian bridge over I-70 to the trailhead or you can park along the off-ramp for exit 195 at the small parking area. If available I suggest parking along the off-ramp thereby avoiding the highway crossing.
The Gore Range Trail to the Wheeler Lakes is a wonderful hike and sees lesser traffic than many hikes just off of I-70. The majority of the hike is through the forest but you get terrific views of the Tenmile Range from the open meadows near the lakes.
From the parking area follow the Gore Range Trail as it parallels the highway overlooking the Copper Mountain Ski Resort and the Tenmile range in the distance. After a gentle rolling section the trail turns north away from the highway and weaves through evergreen forest and aspen groves following a small stream that drains from the Wheeler Lakes. After about .5 mile the trail gets steeper as you gain elevation. While the trail is steep in spots, the overall grade is reasonable and the hiking is not quite strenuous. Once you've gained about 800ft, you'll reach a large scenic meadow with the Shrine Pass ridge in the distance. The trail skirts the meadow and heads back into the forest but the trail is gentler for the remainder of the hike.
After about 2 miles you'll reach the junction with the Wheeler Lakes Trail. Turn left and the magnificent views become immediately apparent. The views of the Tenmile Range are amazing. After a few viewpoints the trail heads down to the first Wheeler Lake. The shore is mostly forested and snow lingers along the shoreline. Continue past the lake for just a few minutes and you'll come to the 2nd Wheeler Lake also forested but with some striking peaks rising in the distance. Follow the trail to the east of the lake and climb the small ridge. The trail leads to a wonderful viewpoint overlooking Officer's Gulch with Lake Dillon and the Continental Divide beyond. The peaks in the opposite direction flank Uneva Pass (reachable if you stayed on the Gore Range Trail). This overlook makes for a great destination and a dry spot if the 2nd lake is soggy with snowmelt.
The hike back down gives you a totally different perspective with the Tenmile peaks and Copper Mountain below. Enjoy the easy downhill as you work your way back to the parking area. Overall the Gore Range Trail to Wheeler Lakes is a stunning hike and one of the shorter ways to access the Eagle's Nest Wilderness.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Wheeler Lakes via Gore Range Trail
Eagle's Nest Wilderness Area
White River National Forest
Date Hiked: June 20, 2015
Distance: 5.8 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,721 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 9,671 to 11,135ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 30' 31" N; 106º 08' 42" W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service