Wheeler Peak is the tallest peak entirely contained in Nevada. It ranks second behind Boundary Peak, which crosses the Nevada state line into California. The trip to Wheeler Peak's summit is a demanding hike at high elevation any time of year. During the winter, however, snow blocks road access to the upper trailhead, forcing hikers to use the much lower and much more distant Lehman Creek Trailhead as an alternative access. This is a significant alteration: while the hike from Wheeler Peak Trailhead to the summit is roughly 6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 3,000 feet, leaving from the Lehman Creek Trailhead and following the route described in this adventure means a 16-mile round-trip hike with 5,300 feet of elevation gain, ensuring that only the hardiest of hikers will make the trip to earn this summit.
Starting from the Lehman Creek Trailhead, this route climbs 2,000 feet from the Upper Lehman Creek Campground to the Wheeler Peak Campground. The well-worn trail cuts through cactus, sagebrush, wildflower meadows, and stands of wiry trees on its way uphill. From the top of the Lehman Creek Trail, continue through the campground and walk up the road to the summer trailhead. Stop to catch your breath, because you're already above 10,000 feet. The trail winds its way up through a thriving aspen forest before venturing above the tree line on its way up to the summit ridge.
From there, stay on the trail to the summit or take the more adventurous route, following signs to Stella Lake. From the lake you can see a skinny band of snow that leads directly up to the ridge. When avalanche risk is minimal, this is the quickest and most direct route up to the summit. Crest the ridge, turn left, and pick up the trail to the summit block.
The wide expanse at the summit gives visitors space to spread out and soak in endless views of the Great Basin. Keep an eye on the clock and the weather; afternoon thunderstorms are relatively common.