Windsor Lake Trail

Wilderness Area

 

Overview/Background

Mount Massive (14,421 feet), Colorado's second highest peak, and other mountains of the Sawatch Range have two distinctive characteristics: great height, and a huge, sloping bulk that makes them relatively easy to climb. Nowhere along the Continental Divide does the ground rise higher than the Sawatch Range, the crest of this continent. Just south of the Wilderness stands Mount Elbert at 14,443 feet, Colorado's highest summit. The divide marks the western boundary of this area, with the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness immediately to the other side. Dry lodgepole pine forests, typical of the eastern slopes of the divide, cover much of the lower elevations and give way to spruce and fir higher up before all trees yield to alpine tundra.

The Leadville National Fish Hatchery, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, comprises approximately 2,500 acres. The majority of the Fish Hatchery lies within the boundary of the Mount Massive Wilderness. The hatchery land inside the Wilderness boundary is co-managed by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). The U.S. Forest Service is the principal land manager, protecting the Wilderness resources. The USFWS manages the fishery and water resources to protect and perpetuate native fish species.