Scroll way down each page to not miss anything.
Here is a glimpse of where the trail ends. It is an alpine bowl that wraps 270 degrees around one's field
of vision. Shown above is one-bit, 1/8 of the rim! Click on the photo to start the journey a little above
Monarch Lake on the Arapaho Trail east of Lake Granby. Wheeler Basin is marked on most maps of the
Indian Peaks Wilderness. It is rimmed within Grand County, Colorado by Arapaho Peak, Arikaree, Navajo,
Apache Peak and Mount George. The basin is named in honor of the original trailblazers to the area and a
caretaker of the precious Silver Lakes region at the top of Boulder's pristine watershed. Here is a library link
to Alfred T. Wheeler.*** Your virtual guide here has had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Wheeler's children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren and with helping with a bit of the mining assessment work done on
Wheeler's 80 acre placer mine claim. A significant part of this assessment work consisted in keeping a trail
open that a team of horses and mules could navigate to the remote basin. When the Indian Peaks Wilderness
officially became a Wilderness in 1978, chainsaws were no longer allowed to maintain trails. It was later
determined in court that Alfred Wheeler's claim no longer passed the "prudent man" rule. His heir's ceased
doing trail work and visiting the area. Today (July of 2010), after a great many storms and winters, the
original trail is mostly lost and its five bridges for strategic crossing points of the creek coming out
of the basin are almost unrecognizable.
The splendor of the upper basin is still as powerful as before
(as you'll see in this photo presentation).
The towering forest in the lower Arapaho Pass trail is still very impressive. The old way to Wheeler Basin
is now hidden by several tangled masses of forest that have been felled by avalanches and the new more
vicious winds that intrude (for a complex nest of reasons, that include the formation of Lake Granby,
the beetle kill of forests upwind, global and also solar influences). The Forest Service has hardly
the resources today to maintain the Arapaho Pass Trail. This is all sounding like the beginnings of
a western novel .... To speed things up, we are going to give you a quick look at our latest photos
to the area. We can come back later and fill in with more information including some GPS coordinates
for the lost bridges. For those familiar with Crater Lake and Lone Eagle Peak (up the Buchanan and
Cascade Creek Trails), Wheeler Basin is on the other side of the almost impassible rim south of
Crater Lake and the Fair Glacier.
For those familiar with the rugged Boulder side of the Divide,
Wheeler Basin is on the other
side of the glacier beyond the Green Lakes at the top of North Boulder Creek. If you are crazy,
you can get in by taking the thousand foot rock chute to the south of Arikaree Peak.
Click here to get started on the easiest way. Scroll down for a rare aerial view, two maps and more.
The two maps above are derived from the Monarch Lake quadrangle. We are focusing here on just the
Wheeler Basin portion of the trek. To reach the trailhead, drive along Lake Granby to its eastern most reach
to Arapaho Bay and then to Monarch Lake. Park and walk the southern route around Monarch Lake to the
Arapaho Pass trail. It is nicely hidden upstream, just as you cross the wooden bridge over Arapaho Creek.
We did this portion in the dark. About five miles up the trail through a rich primordial forest, you reach
the confluence of two streams, one coming from Arapaho Pass and Caribou Lake. The other and stronger
stream (to your left) is coming from Wheeler Basin and the north face of 13,500' Arapaho Peak. Replenish
your water from that one. The red trail on the map is the route we took going in according to our GPS.
The hand drawn deep-blue route is the way we came back out. The blue route follows the original horse
and mule trail in and out of Wheeler Basin. The yellow slashes added to the maps are where there is a
particularly nasty area of downed trees obliterating the original trail. WS1, WS2, ...WS5 are five stream
crossings where there used to be bridges. The bridge is also out at a lower stream crossing on Arapaho Pass
trail where the creeks from Wheeler Basin and Arapaho Pass come together. You will not be able to get
in with a horse until a significant amount of new trail maintenance is done. By foot, there is a shortcut that
one can take before one gets to the yellow slashes. A quarter mile or so before Coyote Park, one watches
for where the stream makes a falls or rapids perpendicular to the Arapaho Pass Trail. A little pass that
hazard one can make a beeline to the creek and within a couple hundred yards from it find the original trail
close to where the yellow slashes are. You'll be almost right on the 10,200 foot contour line. From there,
the trial heads NNW to the stream crossing labeled WS2. Here are the secret coordinates for where to
say farewell to the Arapaho Pass Trail and bypass a lot of fallen timber: North 40º 2.31' West 105º 40.40'.
If you loose your way, here are coordinates to WS2: North 40º 2.64' West 105º 40.50'.
It is worth noting that in the towering forests, our fancy GPS could not always get a signal,
and this was on a clear day! Good luck. Stick together. If you are going to be lost,
do so as a group. This is big and deep country with visibility restricted to 30 yards in many places.
Hikers from Boulder can get to Wheeler Basin by starting at the
4th of July Campground and coming up
and over Arapaho Pass and down the switchbacks that Alfred Wheeler and his friends originally built.
One slowly descends into Coyote Park and continues all the way down Coyote Park before making the
crossing of Arapaho Creek to start on The Basin Trail, or what one can find of it. The red route shown
on the maps around a shoulder of Arapaho Peak is just a game trail.
yet another way to get to Coyote Park, this time from Meadow
Creek Reservoir and the
Caribou Trail, click on the following presentation (use your back button to return to here).
Click here to get started on the easiest way!!!
Additional historical information is provided below.
* The library link has text with important names and dates copied as follows:
14 photographs (13 views)
Contents Photo 1 - Cabin at the Wheeler claim. 1915
Photo 2 - Close-up view of the cabin. 1915
Photo 3 - A. T. Wheeler and an unidentified man. Beaver in the foreground.
Photo 4 - Wheeler Basin, over the range. Irene and A. T. Wheeler on a rock outcropping. 1905-1915.
Photo 5 - Joe Davis, A. T. Wheeler, and Jim Bennett with the first load of clay.
Photo 6 - Looking in Wheeler Basin above Snaggle-tooth slide, other side of continental divide from Silver Lake. 1916
Photo 7 - First clay pit at Wheeler Basin. 1915
Photo 8 - Cairn in left middle foreground, corner marker of the Wheeler claim. Arikaree Peak is in the background. 1915
Photo 9 - Indian Peaks from the clay pits on the Wheeler claim in Wheeler basin. The clay was used for medicinal purposes; used by the Rexall Company for "60 kinds of medication". 1915
Photo 10 - Lake Basin, above Wheeler Basin, in Grand County. Lake Oletha, named for Oletha Wheeler. 1915
Photo 11 - Top of Arapaho Pass. The first load of clay out the Wheeler claim. Joe Davis, James R. Bennett, and a third man (possibly "Mr. Swihart") with pack mules. (Very similar to Photo 5. Not scanned.)
Photo 12 - Wheeler Basin. (Poor quality image. Not scanned.)
Photo 13 - Lake Beth, in Wheeler Basin, named for Rena Beth Wheeler, who is in the foreground. 1921 (Poor quality print. Not scanned.)
Views taken at Wheeler Basin, including Wheeler claim (a clay pit of medicinal clay), a log cabin, Lake Beth (named for Rena Beth Wheeler Lederer), and Lake Oletha (named for Oletha Wheeler Barr). Wheeler Basin is in Grand County, Colo.
Wheeler, Alfred T., 1868-1938.
Wheeler, Lillian Irene Van Horn, 1871-1935.
Lederer, Rena Beth Wheeler, 1907-
Davis, Joseph A., 1855-1931.
Subject: Beavers -- Colorado -- Grand County.
Log cabins -- Colorado -- Grand County.
Clay -- Colorado -- Grand County -- Therapeutic use.
Lakes -- Colorado -- Grand County.
Donkeys -- Colorado -- Grand County.
Geography Lake Beth (Colo.)
Snaggletooth Slide (Colo.)
Arapaho Pass (Colo.)
Indian Peaks Wilderness (Colo.)
Wheeler Basin (Colo.)
Arikeree Peak (Colo.)
Lake Oletha (Colo.)
LOCATION: BCARN Documents Room
CALL #: 513-2-21 PHOTO
Also of relevance from the Boulder Library is the following link:
Darwin. Collection 538
This collection contains photographs of wildflowers, trees and other plants arranged alphabetically by botanical plant name. Views of Colorado mountains and lakes and other geographical features are arranged by location into Boulder, Boulder County, Colorado and miscellaneous views. Photographs of Rockmont Nursery and the Darwin Andrews family, in-laws and relatives are also included.
Photographs of snapshot quality taken by Darwin Andrews [see biography below] of wildflowers, plants and trees native to the Rocky Mountain region. Some of these photos were used to illustrate his Rockmont Nursery seed catalogs. Collection also includes views of Rockmont Nursery, Boulder, Boulder County and surrounding regions as well as family photographs of the Darwin Andrews family, Samuel R. Wheeler family, relatives and friends.
There is also an oversize portrait of Herbert N. Wheeler located in 538-O-1. Wheeler was the son of Rev. Samuel Wheeler, the first pastor of Boulder's Seventh Day Baptist Church, and the co-discoverer (with Darwin Andrews, a brother-in-law) that the ice mass on Arapaho Peak was indeed a glacier.
Darwin Andrews was a horticulturist and the owner of Rockmont Nursery from approximately 1899-1937. Rockmont Nursery was located in Boulder on the corner of 23rd Street and Bluebell. Andrews specialized in collecting and cultivating native plants from the Rocky Mountain region. He ran a world-wide mail order business selling native plants and wildflower seeds.
.. return to Scenery2 list of journeys ..