Wheeler Peak straddles the northwest boundary of Yosemite National Park and southern boundary of the Emigrant Wilderness Area in a very remote area. It is over 20 miles to the nearest trailhead! As such, the peak is seldom climbed.
Few people will hike the distance solely to climb Wheeler Peak; however, if you are thru-hiking the Huckleberry Trail, or visiting nearby Huckleberry Lake, an ascent of Wheeler Peak would make for a quick excursion. The peak is just a mile and a half from Huckleberry Lake and accessible just off the Huckleberry Trail. You can reach the summit with a fairly easy class 2 scramble up the Northeast Ridge.
The two closest trailheads to get to Wheeler Peak are:
1) From Cherry Lake trailhead:
Follow the Kibbie Ridge trail north and eventually towards the east, past Lord Meadow until you are due north of Wheeler Peak. (20 miles total)
CHERRY LAKE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED DUE TO THE YOSEMITE RIM FIRE.
2) From Kennedy Meadows Resort:
Follow the Huckleberry Trail all the way past Huckleberry Lake until you are due north of Wheeler Peak. (22 miles total)
Northeast Ridge: Class 2 scramble over mostly talus. Follow the path of least resistance up to the ridgeline on the northeast side of the summit.
Free wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in both Yosemite National Park and the Emigrant Wilderness Area.
Depending on your point of entry and which direction you are coming from, call one of the following ranger stations for wilderness permits.
Food Storage: Bear canisters are required by federal law in most areas of Yosemite National Park; however, they are not currently required in the Emigrant Wilderness Area or the area surrounding Wheeler Peak so long as you camp below 9600 ft.
- Groveland Ranger Station, for the Cherry Lake trailhead: (209) 962-7825
- Summit Ranger Station, for Sonora Pass trailheads: (209) 965-3434
- Bridgeport Ranger Station, for Sonora Pass trailheads: (760) 932-7070
Please check here for the current requirements
as conditions change over time.
When to Climb
The climbing season varies each year depending on how much snow the area receives during the winter months. Hwy 108 closes during the winter, making winter access from the north more difficult. The distance of Wheeler Peak from the nearest trailhead adds complexity to winter climbing. So typically the most popular time to climb the mountain is from June through October.
There is good camping all around Huckleberry Lake.
-There is a large horse camp at the east end, near the inlet stream.
-There is a very good camp site at the west end which is somewhat hidden.
-There is primitive camping on the south side near the middle of the lake.
-There are additional campsites on the northeast side of the lake.
Be sure to bring your fishing rod! There are both Brook Trout and Rainbows in Huckleberry Lake.
Probably named for an army officer about 1910; not for George M. Wheeler of the Wheeler Survey. (R. B. Marshall.)
-Place Names of the High Sierra (1926) by Francis P. Farquhar