Wagonwheel Lake is all about the elevation gain. This trail is an excellent workout in a relatively short distance. Be prepared for a number of rooty and rocky sections.
The trail climbs steeply almost from the beginning, and continues climbing. What switchbacks there are are short, and only somewhat relieve the steepness. Most of the hike is through a nice forest, with occasional views of nearby peaks. The trail becomes faint in a few areas, watch carefully to keep track of it, especially beyond the switchbacks. In snow, the trail can be very hard to follow.
Just before the lake, the trail traverses a hillside, which gets brushy. Drop down, cross a stream, and you’ll soon be at the lake. The lake is small and the picnic spots are all high above it. But this hike is less about the destination than the journey. Enjoy a break before heading back down. If you have creaky knees, you’ll definitely want poles for the descent.