6 Best Hikes In Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park Overview

Many people don’t think of ‘Nevada’ when they picture mountains and beautiful outdoor wilderness but that is exactly what you get with Great Basin National Park. Many families enjoy going on the guided Lehman Cave tours but adventure seekers can venture out to explore any of the 6 best hikes in Great Basin National Park listed below. The hiking season in this national park is limited to June through September as many of its trails are at elevations of 9000′ or more. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive that leads to many of the trailheads listed below is not typically plowed until the middle of June. As always, be prepared for changing weather conditions and be sure to check the NPS’s website for current information on trail closures.

StateNevada
Nearest Metro AreaSalt Lake City, UT
Area Size77,180 acres
EstablishedOctober 27, 1986
Hiking Trails75 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Great Basin National Park

Wheeler Peak Trail
Wheeler Peak Headwall
Wheeler Peak Headwall, Photo by Paul VanDerWerf

Wheeler Peak is the crown jewel of Great Basin National Park and as such this hike is the best of its trails. This summit hike will challenge even those in great shape as it climbs nearly 3000′ to the 13,064′ summit. The trail gets steeper as you get past the timberline and approach the summit. The views from the top are impossible to beat. The Summit Trailhead is a 1/2 mile north of Bristlecone parking lot.

  • 8.6 miles out and back
  • 2900′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Bristlecone & Glacier Trails
Headwall, Glacier Trail, Wheeler Peak
Headwall, Glacier Trail, Wheeler Peak, Photo by J Brew

The first 1.5 miles on this hike is on Bristlecone Trail where 4,000 year old pines will keep you shaded. Continuing along the Glacier Trail, hikers will travel up to the foot of the 300′ x 400′ glacier. This is one of the best hikes in Great Basin National Park with 2 iconic areas. The trailhead is at the southeast end of Bristlecone parking area.

  • 4.6 miles out and back
  • 1000′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Alpine Lakes Loop
Teresa lake and Wheeler Peak
Teresa lake and Wheeler Peak, Photo by Mitch Barrie

Taking the loop counterclockwise, hikers will pass through a forest to Stella Lake. After that you will continue on to Teresa Lake with incredible views of Wheeler Peak along the way. The hike and its lakes are very tranquil and one that can be completed with the whole family. The trailhead can be found in the Bristlecone parking area by Wheeler Peak Campground.

  • 2.7 mile loop
  • 500′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Baker Lake Loop
Baker Lake
Baker Lake, Photo by Chris M Morris

The longest day hike in the park is this challenging 13+ mile loop taking you to Baker Lake and then Johnson Lake. The trail loops around Pyramid Peak and includes several strenuous switchbacks. Along the ridgetop you will experience exceptional views from all sides. Plan on an early start! The trailhead is located at a small parking area at the end of Baker Creek Road.

  • 13.1 mile loop
  • 3300′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Lexington Arch Trail
View of Lexington Arch from park bench, Photo by NPS

Great option if the road to the trailhead is open but that is not always the case. This is a difficult trail to reach in an isolated part of the park. A 2013 wildfire damaged much of the trail but the highlight has always been the 6 story limestone arch that you reach at the end. Make sure to plan ahead and see if the road is open. The trailhead can be found 25 miles south of Baker, just outside of the park’s boundary.

  • 3.4 miles out and back
  • 800′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Lehman Creek Trail
Lehman Creek high flow_USGS
Lehman Creek high flow, Photo by NPCA Photos

Closing out the best hikes in Great Basin National Park is Lehman Creek. The trail essentially bypasses Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive when it is closed for winter. Passing through many habitats, the trail parallels Lehman Creek. The trailhead(s) can be found at either Wheeler Peak or Lehman Creek Campgrounds.

  • 6.8 miles out and back
  • 2000′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous

Featured Image: Mountains in Great Basin National Park, Photo by Frank Kovalchek

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