Windsor Lake

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 10,783 - 11,631 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Windsor Lake
Fee: none
Attractions: alpine lake, fishing

Windsor Lake is a popular hike near Leadville, Colorado that is located in the Mount Massive Wilderness Area of the San Isabel National Forest. Beginning off of Country Road 4, the Hagerman Pass Road, the trail climbs through a forest of pine and spruce trees to Windsor Lake. The trail is short but a few of the steeper sections will have those not used to mountain hiking at higher altitudes stopping to catch their breath.

Entering 'Windsor Lake Trailhead' into your driving app and choosing the one on Hagerman Pass Road will get you turn-by-turn directions. Alternatively find your way from Leadville to Turquoise Lake and follow County Road 4 over the dam to the Hagerman Pass turnoff. It is about 3 miles to the trailhead after leaving the pavement and the road is passable to that point by standard 2wd passenger vehicles. (If you try to drive over Hagerman Pass you will need a high clearance 4wd vehicle.)

From the kiosk across from the parking area the trail crosses a catwalk over the spillway from the Carlton Water Diversion Tunnel that runs through the mountain to Ivanhoe Lake. After another hundred yards or so the trail enters the Mount Massive Wilderness.

Rocks and tree roots make for an uneven trail that nonetheless is pleasant to hike.

A fork comes up right before crossing the creek where going to the right leads to the mining ghost town of Douglas City and the Hagerman Tunnel while crossing the creek is the way to Windsor Lake.

The climb steepens a little after crossing the creek as it continues through an open area before reentering the seclusion of the forest.

Much steeper sections of trail come up but these are relatively short climbs that level off briefly before beginning the next.

At one point the trail passes closely to the adit of an abandoned mine. (We didn't have a spare canary with us so we didn't bother to enter.)

As the trail begins leveling off it passes by another pretty lake that is just below Windsor Lake. A name for this lake doesn't show up on any of our maps but Lower Windsor would make as much sense as anything else. We did see fish jumping as we hiked on by.

A little more hiking brings the trail on to Windsor Lake which is of good size for a natural alpine body of water.

Plenty of primitive campsites can be found within the trees all around the lake. Campers should be sure to stay within the trees and avoid the meadowy tundra that is close to the water.

Windsor Lake is a short hike but it still yields a good workout. An abundance of parking sets it apart from many other trailheads. Besides being a favorite with locals there are many out of town visitors that get sent up here by the kind folks at the Visitor Information Center in Leadville. It is the shortest, highest, easiest to get to alpine lake hike in the area that we can think of as of this writing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.