Wheeler Peak traverse

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.98860°N / 114.296°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike / Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Moderate
Sign the Climber's Log

*Please Read & Heed

Comments from Great Basin NP regarding the north slope approach to Jeff Davis Peak:

"Unless it is winter and there is snow covering the ground, people need to stay on trail in the Bristlecone grove at the base of Wheeler Peak/Jeff Davis Peak.

This is an issue between Memorial Day and the end of September because of several reasons:

1. We tell people they need to stay on trail in the Bristlecone area because the high visitation is causing soil erosion.

2. Soil erosion kills the Bristlecone trees by exposing their roots.

3. One person seen leaving the trail encourages others to do the same thing.

4. Photo monitoring has documented considerable changes and some of the old trees are dead due to exposure of their roots caused by people leaving the trail."

Please help preserve these noble, ancient trees by heeding the park's recommendation and only using this approach when there is complete snow coverage in this area.


Depending on your preference, you can either use the Wheeler Peak traverse as a "descent" route from the summit of Jeff Davis Peak, or as a means of summiting Jeff Davis Peak from Wheeler Peak.

Route Description

- As a "descent" route: After following the north slope route to the summit, drop down the southwest side of the mountain and onto the saddle between Jeff Davis Peak and Wheeler Peak. Avoid the urge to drop lower and lower to easier terrain, as you will ultimately cliff out if you do. Instead, traverse across the saddle about a mile and start working your way up the class 2 south slope of Wheeler Peak. When you find yourself on the summit of Wheeler Peak (13063 ft), you will see the class 1 trail that will lead you back down the north side of Wheeler Peak and ultimately to the trailhead.

(Note: When you come to forks in the well-maintained trail on the descent to the trailhead, first take the left, then approximately 1/4 mile later, take the right. Shortly before you reach the trailhead, you will come to fork #3 (take a left). Take another left at fork #4 (the last one), cross the foot bridge and walk to your car. It may sound difficult, but it's signed well and not hard to follow.)

- As an ascent route from Wheeler Peak: From the Wheeler Peak trailhead, follow obvious signage to Wheeler Peak (approx. 4 miles and 2900 ft of gain). From the summit of Wheeler Peak, drop down the south side of the mountain and work over class 2 talus and to the east and about a mile across the saddle between Wheeler and Jeff Davis Peak. From the east side of the saddle, take class 2 talus to the summit of Jeff Davis Peak. To descend, either retrace your steps or continue down the North Slope route.

If doing the loop, expect about 9 miles roundtrip and about 3500 feet of gain.

Essential Gear

Hiking boots and water should be sufficient during the summer months.
Ice axe and crampons are necessary in winter and spring.
As always, a topo map never hurts.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.