Wheeler Lake   Difficult icon
Maps:        
USGS 7.5' Map: Alma
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Difficult 8 FR 408 4.2 11,360 to 13,120 ft. Rock-3
Mud-1
4-5 hours
County: Park
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Pike Nat. Forest,
South Park Ranger District
320 Hwy 285, P.O. Box 219
Fairplay, CO 80440
(719)836-2031
Summary: Mount Lincoln 4WD road climbs past the site of Quartzville and up above timberline to the ridge below Mount Lincoln peak.
Attractions: Scenery, Challenge, Alpine Lake
Seasonal
Closure
Natural - Closed by heavy snow
Best Time: June - Late, may still be snowed in above timberline. July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
Trail Heads
Accessed:
Access to the north side of Democrat Mountain
Access to Clinton Peak and Wheeler Mountain
Camping: Their are a few dispersed sites at the start of Wheeler Lake 4WD road.
Base Camp: This would not be a good place to base camp. Although there are other 4WD roads in the area, the dispersed campsites are small and after one of the Wheeler Lake obstacles
Fall Colors: Poor - Pine forest, tundra
Navigation: From Breckenridge CO. head south on S Main St toward W Adams Ave for 0.3 miles. Turn left onto CO-9 S/S Main St and continue to follow CO-9 S for 10.9 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 4 and go 0.9 miles. Slight right onto Pv32 and go 0.9 miles. Take the right out of the parking area to climb up under the Magnolia Mill and begin the Wheeler Lake 4WD road.

From Fairplay, CO. head northwest on CO-9 N/Main Street toward 4th Street and continue to follow CO-9 N for 10.3 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 4 and go 0.9 miles. Slight right onto Pv32 and go 0.9 miles. Take the right out of the parking area to climb up under the Magnolia Mill and begin the Wheeler Lake 4WD road.
History: Montgomery started in 1861 with the discovery of gold in the gravels of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River. By the fall Montgomery had two hotels and seventy cabins as well as two sawmills running day an night. By 1862 there were 150 cabins and six mills processing gold ore. To celebrate Colorado becoming a territory, Montgomery sent President Lincoln a bar of gold, and the town's people named one of the highest peaks in the area for Lincoln. After the gold was exhausted the town bacame abandoned with few residents staying. In 1881 silver ore was discovered and the boom was on again. Mining continued into the 20th century.

At the start of the Wheeler Lake 4WD road you will drive through the Magnolia Mill site. This mill was formerly known as the Eddy Mill. It used the MacArthur-Forrest process to treat the ore from the Magnolia Mine. The Commonwealth Mining Company purchased the mine and mill in 1917. At this time the mine, up on North Star Mountain located 1,200 feet above the mill, was enlarged. There was a 3,800 foot tramway built between the mine and the mill, which can be seen in the trees today.
Magnolia Mill, 1940s. Denver Public Library

By the late 1940's only ruined cabins and the faint traces of foundations were all that was left of Montgomery. In the early 1960's, a century after Montgomery started, Colorado Springs purchased the site and cleared out what remained. A dam was constructed and the Montgomery town site sits beneath the waters of the Montgomery Reservoir.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 2, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1999. Print.
Description:
Wheeler Lake 4WD road begins at the west end of the Montgomery Reservoir. At a parking area near the Middle Fork of the South Platte River waterfalls look for a road heading into the bursh toward the Magnolia Mill. It will start out with some tight switchbacks and a few small rock ledges. Shortly you will pass under the cat walk between the ore dump from the tram line and the processing side of the mill.
Magnolia Mill 2014

photo by:
Adam M

Magnolia Mill 2014

photo by:
Adam M

Magnolia Mill 1991

photo by:
Adam M

Magnolia Mill 1991

photo by:
Adam M

Magnolia Mill 1984

photo by:
Adam M

Just past the mill is the first obstacle on Wheeler Lake. It is a short climb up a notch in the granite. Watch your line and the rock outcropping on the left.
First Obstacle 2014
Brian M

photo by:
Adam M

The road stays tight and continues through the trees passing a road to the right that goes to private property. You will continue to cross rough sections and some small mud holes as you follow the creek. In less than a mile you will come to the main obstacle on Wheeler Lake. The V groove presents a challenge in picking the right line.
Main Obstacle 2014

photo by:
Adam M

There is a bypass to the V groove on the left side of the rock outcropping. Once you get up onto it, keep your momentum to get to the top.
Main Obstacle bypass 2014

photo by:
Adam M

In 2003 the obstacle was easier than it is today. More dirt has been removed by use over the years.
Main obstacle in 2003

photo by:
Adam M

Beyond the main obstacle Wheeler Lake 4WD road will continue to follow the creek in the valley below Mount Lincoln. The road will remain rough with mud holes all along the way. There will be one larger mud hole to cross before you come to a small creek crossing.
Wheeler Lake road 2003

photo by:
Adam M

After you cross the creek the road will climb up away from the valley becoming a bit more rugged. You will cross a series of switchbacks as you climb.
Wheeler Lake switchbacks

photo by:
Adam M

Once at the top of the switchbacks you will come to Wheeler Lake.
Wheeler Lake 2003

photo by:
Adam M

Data updated - January 20, 2015       4WD Road driven - July 23, 2003       Copyright 4X4Explore - 2000-2015