Wheeler Crest

Wheeler is one of the best hike and fly peaks in the Sierra. You can actually drive to the top, but this requires a pretty serious 4X4 rig, and it’s pretty long and involved. The more common method is to car shuttle up and around the backside, and by doing that, you cut out most of the hike. From the trailhead you have to hike only 2,250 vertical feet, and get to fly 7,000 vertical!

Please Note: recently, the wilderness boundary has changed. Do not fly the peak if it now lies in forbidden territory. It’s up to you to know where you are and what designation the land has been given. The road to the top is still open and fair game for transport/launching, but most of the top area and southern portion is now wilderness. Please follow the rules, or at least do not post footage of illegal launch locations.  This is one of our best top-to-bottom flying sites for speed flying/acro/sled rides. Let’s keep it open….


Launching from just above the pass-

wheeler crest


To get to the LZ- Below the massive east face of Wheeler Crest is a nice small grassy area with a spring, named Wells Meadow. To get to this point from Bishop, head north on highway 395 towards Mammoth. Approximately ten miles north of Bishop, take a left hand turn (west) on Pine Creek road towards Rovana. Immedietly turn right (north) on to Lower Rock Creek road, and parallel highway 395. After 1.3 miles turn left onto Birchim lane. Head 1.2 miles up Birchim lane until you get to a T junction with a stop sign. Turn right, and head 1.1 miles on the dirt road. After the 1.1 miles, the big dirt road curves right, and you continue straight (west) towards the peak. Head one more mile on this smaller dirt road to the locked gate. Park here, hop the gate, and continue on foot for five minutes to the meadow Wells Meadow LZ.


Looking north while on glide out to the Owen’s Valley-

wheeler ridge

Looking south towards Mt Tom-

wheeler speedfly


Getting to the hiking trailhead- Get back on highway 395 and head north for about 13 miles to the Toms Place/Rock Creek exit. Turn left (SW) here, and drive about eight miles up to the Rock Creek Lake turn-off, which will be on your left. Drive .4 miles more, and park on the left at the trailhead for Dorothy Lakes. This is the start of your hike.

The Hike- Hiking to Dorothy lake is pretty straight forward trail hiking. Once you get to the southern tip of the lake, you will have to head cross-country (SW) towards the rocky slope which leads to the lowest point of Wheeler Crest. Hike and scramble up this jagged slope to the pass, and from there you can hike either north or south along the summit ridge to various launch sites. Usually its best to head north along the ridge, as the potential launch sites keep getting better and better. The LZ is pretty much directly below you, a bit to the left while you look down the slope.

Looking east, you can see the LZ meadow-

Wheeler LZ

The LZ-

wheeler crest paragliding


Driving to the top- Just north of Bishop is a small town called Swall Meadows. From here there is an old 4X4 road called Sand Canyon rd. that heads up and around to the top of Wheeler Crest. I Do not know much about it, other than it is pretty rough.


Wheeler is very big and steep, so it makes it an ideal location for ACRO, speed flying, SIV, or just playing around. You launch from the top of the ridge facing east, so any west wind will shut you down. Early morning flights are the norm as they tend to have the best conditions, so try to get started early. This is an extremely big peak, so treat it with respect.


Launch site: Wheeler Crest

Aspect: NE to SE

Vertical descent: 7,000 to 8,300 ft, depending on launch and LZ locations

Launch elevation: 12,000 ft

Best for: PG & speed wings

Approach: 2WD car then hiking

Time to launch from the LZ: 25 min drive then 2.5  hour hike to the top

Glide ratio to primary LZ: super steep

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