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Featured Rig-2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and Trailer

October 5, 2015 Comments Off on Wheeler Ridge Trail Adventures, California, Camping, Home Page, Inyo National Forest, Mountain, Overland Trails, Primitive Camping

Wheeler Ridge Trail

heading up trail wheeler ridge

Planning a trip to the Eastern Sierra? Check out this write up on the difficult Wheeler Ridge Trail then TAP into Adventure!

GPS N 37 29.255  W118 42.577
Elevation gain  9,802 to 10,934
Season  Late July-Sept. check for snow
Terrain  Steep rock sections, ledge road significantly off-camber and very narrow
Difficulty  Difficult
Required Vehicle 4×4 with high clearance.
Time  3 hours round trip
Length  6.3 miles one way

Current Road conditions: Inyo N.F., White Mountain R.D. 760-873-2500

Directions: This trail is signposted as Wheeler Ridge Mine Trail off of Sandstone trail. Getting to Sandstone Trail: From Highway 395, between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, take Lower Rock Creek Road south 4.3 miles or Gorge Road/Old Sherwin Grade Road north 6.8 miles to Swall Meadow Road.  Head west on Swall Meadow Road .7 miles and turn right on Sky Meadows Road.  Follow Sky Meadows Road northwest .5 miles to one-lane dirt road on the right soon after the pavement ends at GPS coordinates: N 37 30.891  W118 38.295.

Wheeler Ridge trail head

wheeler ridge steep down














Site Location and Description:  Wheeler Ridge Trail follows an old mining road across a jagged ridge near 11,000 feet.  It is located in the John Muir wilderness in the Inyo National Forest. Take notice of the trail description sign (most difficult) as front and rear lockers were required and the 4.5 lift and 35 inch tires were needed.  The trail is composed of several wilderness corridors as it is located  in the John Muir Wilderness reserve, straying off the road is illegal and you could end up with a $5,000 fine or a 6 month jail sentence.  According to Tread Lightly principles we suggest that you don’t stray off any trail, anywhere.  Wheeler Ridge trail takes you up a rocky climb to a steep downhill section over to a lake bed which was dry when we travelled but would be beautiful after a snow melt.  Go past the lake bed and bear left to a primitive campsite with a beautiful overlook into Round Valley and Bishop.

Squeeze wheeler ridge trail

Just past the camp area is a shelf road.  This is potentially very dangerous as it is very narrow (just wide enough for our Rubi), off camber sloping toward a dangerous drop and is topped by soft, crumbly sand.  Once you are on it, there is no room to turn around and go back.  You are committed.  We don’t recommended driving this portion of the trail if you are venturing out with one rig or have a fear of close, exposed drops. Walk ahead and scope it out for oncoming vehicles.  If a vehicle is coming in the other direction, there is NO ROOM for passing, which could make this treacherous ledge road even more dangerous. Do not attempt this part of the trail if there is snow.  After the shelf road, you pass through a little valley then climb a steep, sandy, rocky incline to an area that has great views and primitive camping.

Lake bed at top wheeler ridge

Approaching the lake bed

  • wheeler ridge Primitive camping after shelf road
    Primitive camping after the shelf road
  • Owen's valley view from Wheeler ridge
    Owen's Valley view from Wheeler ridge
  • Heading up Wheeler Ridge
    Heading up Wheeler Ridge
  • Fall beauty wheeler
    More Fall beauty on Wheeler Ridge
  • Fall beauty 3
    Descent : coming back from shelf road
  • Heading down Wheeler Ridge trail
    Heading down Wheeler Ridge trail
  • primitive camping before shelf road wheeler ridge
    Primitive camping area just before the shelf road section of Wheeler Ridge
  • Trailhead wheeler
    Trailhead-Wheeler Ridge
  • Fall beauty on the Wheeler Ridge Trail

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