A superb hike especially in June when the wildflowers are in abundance. Hiked on Jun 22 starting from the Bull-of-the-Woods trailhead, elevation just under 9500'. Much of the lower section of the hike is in the woods and follows old roads thus the trail is wide. Once the trail nears La Cal basin you're above timberline with superb views with a single trail track. Snow was still present in places too. Enroute to Wheeler peak you will pass Mount Walter at an elevation of 13,133'. Continuing on the trail I saw two Bighorn Sheep grazing on the slope below. As you near Wheeler you will see a cairn which marks the trail junction with Williams Lake. Mount Wheeler was crowded despite the fierce cool wind. About 20 people were sitting around attempting to hide from the wind while they enjoyed a bite of food. On the return trip I took the Williams Lake route which descends via switchbacks of scree. Footing can be tricky in places so do pay attention. Saw two Marmots on the way down plus plenty of wildflowers. The trailhead for Williams Lake is around 10,250'. Since my car was at the Twinning parking lot next to the Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead I had to walk about two miles down a dirt road. Total distance was around 14 miles which took 7 hours. The Bull-of-the-Mountain trail route is around 7.5 miles (length varies with the source) while the Williams Lake portion is 4.1 miles. Most people take the Williams Lake trail as its much shorter and starts out at a higher elevation. Trail is steep though once you start the switchbacks above Williams Lake plus much of the trail is nothing more than packed scree. Pavement ends at the Twinning parking lot next to Bull-of-the-Mountain trailhead so anyone heading up to the Williams Lake parking lot will have to drive up a well-maintained dirt road for about 2 miles.
As a side note I would ask visitors to stay on the trails. Not only is it safer but it prevents scarring the landscape. High elevation tundra has a very short growing season thus damage takes several years to repair. I mention this because I happen to witness a dozen University of Alabama students cutting across a large swath of La Cal basin - "pioneering" their own trail in order to avoid the switchbacks of the trail.
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