Gore Range Trail to Wheeler Lakes, Copper Mountain - Gore Range Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Gore Range Trail to Wheeler Lakes - 5.9 miles
Copper Mountain - Gore Range Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.9 miles (includes both lakes)|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,723' - 11,072' (11,098' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,349' net elevation gain (+1,462' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Gore Range Trail to Wheeler Lakes - 5.9 Miles Round-Trip
The Wheeler Lakes are located 2.9 miles north of Copper Mountain Ski Area in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. The lakes fill shallow depressions in a large meadow complex off the Gore Range Trail.
This short, moderately-strenuous hike leads through subalpine forests and high open spaces with good views across the Gore and Ten Mile ranges. Visitors will enjoy wildlife viewing and excellent backcountry camping choices on the way to Wheeler Lakes:
From Copper Mountain Ski Resort's Alpine Parking Lot, walk .35 miles east over the I-70 pedestrian bridge to a sign marking the Gore Range Trail on your left (9,725').
The trail rises gently through a sage-aspen hillside over I-70, gradually bending north into a thick forest and across the Eagles Nest Wilderness Boundary (1.2 miles : 10,195').
It steepens considerably through quick intervals of spruce and large clearings to the edge of a broad meadow (1.85 miles : 10,778'), a good place to find wildlife. It skirts the meadow and winds moderately up thinning timber to the Wheeler Lakes Trail split (2.55 miles : 11,077').
The Wheeler Lakes Trail branches northeast and levels in a vast meadow to the first Wheeler Lake (2.75 miles : 11,086'). It continues easily along the west shore through a sliver of trees to the second Wheeler Lake (2.95 miles : 11,067').
The trail continues informally about 150 yards north to an overlook across Officers Gulch and Uneva Pass. Both lake shores are reasonably clear, flat, and easy to explore.
Those with time can backtrack to the Gore Range Trail and head north to a string of scenic ponds (1.05 miles from the split), and continue on to Lost Lake (2.4 miles from the split).
- N39 30.185 W106 08.546 — Parking Lot at Copper Mountain
- N39 30.416 W106 08.687 — .35 miles : Pickup Gore Range Trail across I-70
- N39 30.331 W106 09.114 — .95 miles : Gentle climb up open hillside
- N39 30.394 W106 09.352 — 1.2 miles : Eagles Nest Wilderness Boundary sign
- N39 30.433 W106 09.454 — 1.35 miles : Strenuous climb into subalpine forest
- N39 30.722 W106 09.820 — 1.85 miles : Skirt large, flat meadow
- N39 31.112 W106 10.149 — 2.55 miles : Wheeler Lakes spur trail junction
- N39 31.234 W106 10.088 — 2.75 miles : Wheeler Lake #1
- N39 31.351 W106 10.167 — 2.95 miles : Wheeler Lake #2
- Much of this trail passes through exposed areas near treeline. Get an early start to enjoy the open high country and return safely below treeline before summer storms develop.
- Anticipate changing weather conditions throughout the day. Carry versatile layers, sun, wind and rain protection.
- Look for deer, elk, moose and bear in the meadows leading up to and around Wheeler Lakes.
- This is a popular destination for both dayhikers and backpackers. Arrive early to avoid crowds and secure preferred campsites near the lakes.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. No permit is necessary. Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Free flowing water is limited in the Wheeler Lakes vicinity. Adequately treat all water and be sure pumps are working to capacity prior to setting out.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.
- Contact the Dillon Ranger District (970.468.5400) for the latest on weather, trail conditions and trail-specific usage guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
- For those not wishing to camp in the backcountry, there are several developed campgrounds within the White River National Forest. Contact the Dillon Ranger District for information on these sites.
- Fishing is permitted with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are permitted on the Gore Range Trail and within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6'.
- Horses are permitted on the Gore Range Trail.
- Bikes are not permitted on the Gore Range Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
The Gore Range Trail can be accessed from several parking areas along I-70 to reach Wheeler Lakes. Each requires that you trace I-70 for a short time before turning north on the main trail. The most convenient access point for most visitors begins at Copper Mountain Ski Resort's Alpine Parking Lot.
Parking is free in the summer, but overnight permits are required.
From Denver, take the 195 - Copper Mountain Exit off I-70 and proceed to the Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Turn right on Copper Road into the resort, then immediately left into the Alpine Lot. Walk .35 miles east back over the I-70 pedestrian bridge. A sign marking the trail is located just over the bridge on your left (north). Mileage described above includes this .35 mile walk from the Alpine Lot.
You may alternatively park on the small shoulder to your right just off the 195 exit ramp, or at the Officers Gulch Exit off I-70. The latter requires a longer walk along I-70 to reach the main trail.
Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
M - F from 8am - 4pm
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602