Wheeler Lake Trail is a hidden gem beyond Montgomery Reservoir that few know about. Not far from Alma, CO, you’ll find Montgomery Reservoir and a great day hike. A gorgeous waterfall to begin or end your day and a trail with views of North Star Mtn, 13,406, Wheeler Mtn. 13,629 ft, and Clinton Peak, 13,813 ft. until reaching beautiful Wheeler Lake at 12 + ft.


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Park on the far side of the Montgomery Reservoir, walk the road for a bit to the trailhead, and first check out the waterfall. It’s hidden beyond the trees but easily found, you can hear it thundering down the mountainside.

I noticed several families along the shores of Montgomery Reservoir & near the waterfall hanging out, picnicking, and fishing.




I am here with a friend who wanted a high-altitude hike without too much of an uphill climb. This is perfect for that.

Right from the start, we were taken in with Magnolia Mill, an old Mine from the late1800s that sits just before the start of Wheeler Lake Trail. Hike up behind Magnolia Mill and you’ll find a 4×4 road leading up the valley. This is the trail.



This hike became a kind of adventure. There were deep pockets of standing water along the trail. In some areas 6” or more. We jumped rocks in some spots and went around them on designated trails along the sides. Some tricky paths, some easy paths.

Definitely want waterproof hiking boots, we encountered water on the entire hike.




The trail is a 4×4 road, quite technical at the beginning for off-road vehicles but an easy climb for hikers in the first 3 miles. However, it is challenging if rocks are not your thing. Lots of rocks and on the side trails lots of minor bushwhacking.

After a few mining remnants, we steadily climb into wide open spaces with views in every direction. It’s incredibly stunning.



Farther up we went more and more wildflowers greeted us as well as some ominous clouds ahead. The weather is looking and feeling iffy but no thunder so we continued on.


A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gearCLICK HERE> for a look at the gear I use and have in my backpack on every hike.



Suddenly the trail takes on an intense uphill climb over larger rocks and getting quite steep.





The views just got better and better and the wildflowers more intense just before reaching Wheeler Lake. One of the prettiest hikes I’ve hiked. Different from other Colorado trails with the lack of trees most of the hike. Already above treeline, it is just amazing!

Non-essentials but FUN to have hiking in Colorado, a Wildflower Guide, & Animal Tracks Guide, & Binoculars.




Snowmelt in the middle of July amid lush green alpine tundra. Gorgeous. I think we were in awe every second as we approached the lake.






Here we are at Wheeler Lake. Crystal clear water lined with fields of white flowers along the shore looked pristine.

There are only a few hikers about and sadly it’s starting to rain so hanging out here was not an option. But, we explored a little, grabbed a snack, and made our way back down.

I recently purchased a hiking umbrella (Six Moon Designs) and have used it on numerous trails this season. I never knew I needed one! It is super lightweight & easy to attach to my backpack. I love it.



Highly recommend this hike for easy access to Colorado’s High Country. Not to be misleading, this is a popular trail/road for 4×4’s. We only encountered one group, very considerate, smiling, 4×4 enthusiasts at the end of our hike. It did not invade the solitude of our day.

This area is popular for weekend backpacking and exploring the 13ers.


Rated easy/moderate

6.5 miles out & back

No restrooms

Nearest Town: Alma, CO

Pike National Forest

South Park Ranger District

Montgomery Reservoir: Stocked with rainbow trout. Shore fishing only. Another option, the small stream above the reservoir contains brookies up to 10 inches. Access on foot or 4WD vehicle above the reservoir.


Easy access from Breckenridge, Hwy 9 (Hoosier Pass) to County Road 4, turn right
Easy access from Fairplay, Hwy 9 (Hoosier Pass) to County Road 4, Turn left
Forest Service Road #408 is the hiking, backpacking, 4×4 road to Wheeler Lake

Trails Nearby We Loved

Mohawk Lakes Trail, Colorado’s Best Hike

McCullough Gulch Hike in Summer!

North Ten Mile Creek Trail, an Alpine Jewel!


Drop a comment below for any questions. Share your adventures with me. I’d love to hear from you, HAPPY TRAILS…

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).