West Lake Creek
3,200 acres (5.0 square miles)
The proposed West Lake Creek Addition to the Holy Cross Wilderness occupies parts of the Squaw Creek, Casteel Creek, and Card Creek drainages on the east side of Bellyache Mountain, in the northern foothills of the Sawatch Range. Bellyache Mountain is a broad flat-topped ridge with large open parks on its top. The creeks cut steeply into its flanks. The area is forested by Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, interspersed with large stands of aspen. Elevations range from 8,000 feet at Squaw Creek to 10,460 feet above upper Salt Creek.
What’s special about it
Ecology: The area provides important summer range for deer and elk.
Recreation: Hunting and hiking are popular here.
Motor recreation: Illegal off-road vehicle use is the primary threat to this area. This activity on the Porphyry Mountain and Bellyache Mountain areas have resulted in the creation of several illegally-developed trails. The USFS has deleted 4,969 acres from the west half of the Salt Creek roadless area due to excessive vehicular use.
Division of Wildlife habitat qualities, species of significance
West Lake Creek is a small area which shares its southern boundary with the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. The area plays an essential role as a habitat link between the dedicated wildlife migration corridors of the Cordillera to the high summer habitat in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. The area consists of lodgepole pine, aspen, mountain shrub and spruce-fir habitat types. The area serves as transitional and summer range for both mule deer and elk, summer range for black bear, and has determined to be suitable for lynx foraging and denning. West Lake Creek area is an important linkage area for wildlife wintering on private property and transitioning back to the higher elevation lands.
Management recommendations: New construction of roads and trails from private or public lands should be monitored and physically closed and rehabilitated to native vegetations.
In response to conversations with local users and advisory boards, boundaries for this proposal area have been modified to accommodate existing popular bicycling opportunities.
How to get there
The proposed West Lake Creek Addition is located 5 miles southwest of Edwards.
- To access the area, get off I-70 at Edwards (Exit 163), cross the Eagle River, and go west on State Highway 6 past the trailer park. Turn south onto CR 23, Squaw Creek Road. From the road closure, you may hike Squaw Creek Trail (1897) around a private parcel and up Squaw Creek along the Holy Cross Wilderness boundary to the Bellyache Road.
- From West Lake Creek Road (FS 423), on the eastern boundary of the unit, access is blocked by private property
- The USGS 7 1⁄2' quads for the proposed West Lake Creek Addition are Grouse Mountain and Fulford.