Wheeler Lake is a gem of an alpine lake, tucked in an elbow turn of the Continental Divide. A hillside covered with white cascades pours into the lake from snow melting under the crystal blue Colorado sky. The hike follows an extreme four-wheel drive road under part of the old Magnolia Mill and past various relics of mining days. Hikers should expect to see vehicles on this multiple-use road. Mount Lincoln at 14, 286 feet watches over the broad valley of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River, above which lies Wheeler Lake. Below the waters of Montgomery Reservoir lie the remains of the town of Montgomery. The little town started in 1859 after gold was discovered on nearby mountains. Within two years the town had two hotels, seventy cabins, and two sawmills. In one two-week period, miners found between fifteen and twenty rich strikes. Citizens decided to name the towering peak to the west, which they believed to be the highest in Colorado, after President Lincoln. They even sent him a bar of gold from one of the mines located on his namesake. The following year 1, 000 people called Montgomery home. A drugstore, mercantile, dry goods store, and various saloons served their needs. Six gold mills worked the ore from the area ’s mines, with the Magnolia, Montgomery, and Pendleton being top producers. As many as 2, 000 people may have lived in town at one time. They even proposed Montgomery as the state capital!
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Directions to: Wheeler Lakeprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Elevation Gain||1,220 ft|
|Skill Level||More Difficult|
|Duration||2.8 to 4.5 hours|
|Season||Best from July to early October|
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