An alpine hike to the highpoint of Great Basin National Park, and the second-tallest mountain in Nevada.


4 - 5









FATMAP difficulty grade



Wheeler Peak, at 13,065 feet, is the second-highest point in Nevada, and the highest that’s completely within the state.

([Boundary Peak](,-113.3456832,532995.4900150,-90,0,1618.8272956,normal), on the California border, is less than 100 feet taller.) Wheeler is the crown of the Snake Range in Great Basin National Park.

There are multiple routes to the summit, but described here is the standard approach on the Wheeler Peak Trail.

It’s a straightforward hike under typical summer conditions.

Early or late season snow can make it a bit more technical, however. You can begin this hike from the trailhead for [Bristlecone Trail]( and [Alpine Lakes Loop](, but Wheeler Peak Trail has an alternate trailhead that tends to be less busy, and saves some elevation gain.

That is the route mapped here.

The trail is easy to follow as it ascends gradually through a spacious forest of pines and aspen.

As you get higher, gaps and meadows present frequent views of the peak and its imposing cirque of cliffs. This trail meets the Alpine Lakes Loop near Stella Lake, where a short side trip is worth it for the photo opp.

From there, the Wheeler Peak Trail continues upward, soon reaching a view of Stella Lake from above.

Nearing the timberline, Wheeler’s curving north ridge unfolds ahead.

The summit now looks obtainable, but it's still far away. The stretch of trail above the trees is over broken talus that shifts underfoot, and possibly some snow.

That plus the altitude makes it feel longer than it really is.

What’s more, this mountain is rather notorious for strong and cold winds.

You won’t encounter them on every day, but be prepared.

Also be sure to watch the clouds, because this is no place to be in an afternoon thunderstorm. The final mile climbs nearly 1,500 feet before finally leveling out on Wheeler’s sky-high summit ridge.

From there, you’ll peer off all sides of the mountain.

The enormous cirque wall snakes ahead to the south, and the rest of the range expands from there.

To the east and west are vast desert basins, bound by further mountains on the horizons.

You’ll want to linger and enjoy the views, so you’ll likely be grateful for the handful of windbreaks constructed near the summit. Continuing over Wheeler and traversing to Doso Doyabi (formerly Jeff Davis Peak) is a worthy extension which earns airy vantage over the cirque, plus the summit of Nevada’s third-highest peak.

The route (not mapped here) involves some tougher boulder hopping but remains at Class 2 under normal conditions.

Go for the link-up if you’re motivated for more.

Otherwise, return on the trail to descend. Sources: