Mount Massive Wilderness

Area Status: Open

Mount Massive Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1980, and it now has a total of 30,540 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Colorado and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service.

The Mount Massive Wilderness is bordered by the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness to the west. 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 USDA Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Forest Service is the principal land manager, protecting the wilderness resources. The US Fish and Wildlife Service manages the fishery and water resources to protect and perpetuate native fish species.

The Colorado Trail #1776 crosses 10 miles of the eastern region, and only about 10 more miles of trails exist in this wilderness.

Please help keep wilderness wild by following Leave No Trace practices.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Busiest Season: June-September
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
Closest Towns: Leadville, CO
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: Forest Service; Fish and Wildlife Service
Information Center: Leadville Ranger District

General Information


Key access points:

Southern access:

Northern access: 

  • Timberline Lake Trailhead - accesses Colorado Trail #1776 south of Holy Cross and North of Mt. Massive Wildernesses. Directions: From Leadville, Colorado head west to Lake County Road 9 and follow to the Timberline Lake Trailhead.

General Notes:

Topo maps

Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.

Buy maps online

National Forest Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.

Colorado’s Fourteeners

Find more information about climbing Colorado’s peaks at the Rocky Mountain Region 14ers page.

Go to for additional maps and information about Wilderness.


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  • 'Queen of the 14ers' Link opens in a new window

    She is the agency’s Colorado Fourteeners Program manager; others simply refer to her as ‘Queen of the 14ers’.