Originally Published in Issue 34 of 4Low Magazine
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Story and Photos by Mike Boyle
With all the craziness that has been going on over the last few months, getting out into the great outdoors has never been more critical. With this in mind, a group of friends from across the state of Colorado met up just outside of the mountain town of Alma to celebrate Independence Day the best way they know how, enjoying the beauty and challenge of our local mountain trails.
Wheeler Lake Trail is a +5 mile in-and-out route that takes you from Magnolia Mill at 10,800 ft to a beautiful mountain lake at 12,000 ft elevation. The overall trail is considered upper-moderate in difficulty. The first 1.5 miles of trail are the most difficult with three separate rock formations to traverse. Each section has multiple lines and can be as difficult or as easy as you want them to be (33” tires and at least one locker is recommended). With obstacle names like “The Flopper” and “The V-Notch,” there are plenty of places to test your rig’s capability. Once past the third rock formation, the trail becomes a narrow two-track that winds its way up the valley through numerous creek crossings and tight brush. The last climb before the top is known as Bowling Ball Hill due to the large moving rocks that compromise the road base. Once you crest the top, you are greeted with a gorgeous 360-degree view of the area and a natural high mountain lake.
As with all mountain trails in Colorado, one must be prepared for any type of weather. Unfortunately for us, the weather turned while everyone enjoyed the scenery and soon had us scrambling for our vehicles to get out of a hail storm. Even as we descended the mountain in our doorless and open-topped vehicles, the weather couldn’t distract us from enjoying the beauty and freedom experienced just getting back out in nature.