Back to index Wheeler Ridge Hike
Trip Date:  7/12/2019

: 6.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1400'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard   Strenuous
Wheeler Ridge Hike
See video of this hike  See video of hike   Download GPX GPX for this trip
Wheeler Ridge Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 29.611, W 119 58.845     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 4 to the parking area just about a mile east of the eastern end of Lake Alpine.  Turn north into the Woodchuck Basin parking area, which has ample room for at least 10 parked cars.
Hazards of Note:   Route-finding, wilderness environment, snow, wildlife.

Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  The Woodchuck Basin trailhead is one of the lesser known trails into the Mokelumne Wilderness, but it is a relatively popular trail even for shorter hikes.
General Notes:
From the parking area you will find the trail just past the information kiosk to the north.  The trail can be a little difficult to pick up early on, especially when there is snow on the ground, but just keep heading north and stay on the eastern side of the creek.  The trail winds through the forest for the first half mile, and then gradually opens up and enters the Mokelumne Wilderness after about a mile.  From here the trail bends northwest, until you reach the ridgeline and an unsigned junction with three trails.  The one heading straight and back down the other side of the ridge will take you toward Wheeler Lake and further up into Underwood Canyon.  The trail to the west heads back down eventually toward Lake Alpine, and the thin use trail to the east is the one you will take to head along the ridgeline.  Follow this general direction for a couple of miles until you reach the basalt formation just past the Wheeler Ridge summit register.  Head back down to the trailhead retracing your steps or follow the natural, easy-sloping draw back about 1/2 mile to the west.

This is the small sign at the entrance to the parking area for the Wheeler Lake trailhead and Woodchuck Basin. Parking area
The actual trail starts just past this information kiosk north of the parking area. Information Kiosk at the trailhead
A quarter mile up the trail is another information sign, including a mileage info marker indicating 3 1/2 miles to Wheeler Lake and 7 miles to Frog Lake deep in the Mokelumne Wilderness. Another sign 
When the trail opens up as you near the Wilderness boundary, you get a good view of the ridgeline which you will traverse across later on. Opening area
Once you pass this sign you will be in the Mokelumne Wilderness for most of the rest of the hike.
Wilderness entry
As you climb up the ridge, you will start to get expansive views to the south of Lake Alpine and the mountains of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness further on. Early views
Nearing the top of the ridge you will see an enticing peak to the west that undoubtedly offers amazing views in all directions. Nearing the ridge
Reaching the top of the ridge, a phenominal view north toward Round Top mountain far in the distance awaits. Top of the ridge 
To the northwest is a clear view of Mokelumne Peak, and the Mokelumne Tetons on the southeastern side of the mountain. Mokelumne Peak
On this early season date the north side ridge cornices blocked any attempt to reach Wheeler Lake down in the Underwood Valley, but the setting is amazing and awaits another day. Wheeler Lake
Along the ridgeline, to the northeast are clear views of the western side of Raymond and Reynolds Peaks, just west of the Pacific Crest Trail. Raymond and Reynolds
A good view of Lake Alpine and Spicer Meadow Reservoir past it await from the ridgeline. Lake Alpine
This distant basalt formation is your turnaround destination for this particular trek. Where you're headed
Near the destination is a well-buried summit register with the Carson-Iceberg mountains (and beyond) amazingly visible on a clear day. Summit Register
A helpful locator card was found in the summit register. Locator card
A good view back along the ridgeline just traversed from where the Wheeler Lake trail crested the ridgeline. The way we came
A closer look at the 3 Chimneys mountain south of Sonora Pass, with just a glimpse of the Dardenelles in the foreground. 3 Chimneys
A waterfall off the trail pretty close to the start of the trek. Waterfall along the creek
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike