Situated in the midst of Colorado’s Sawatch Range, the dual CDT Gateway Community of Leadville and Twin Lakes is surrounded by mountains with summits above 14,000 feet — known locally as “14ers.” There are 15 such mountains within an hour’s drive from the two towns. This unique location makes Leadville and Twin Lakes the perfect place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, biking, horseback riding, camping, and ziplining.
This area was historically home to people of the Ute tribe, Colorado’s oldest residents, until the town of Leadville was founded by white settlers in 1860 following the discovery of gold in the area. Prospectors also found silver, lead (from which the town gets its name), and molybdenum, an important steel hardener. In its heyday, 60,000 people lived in Leadville, and it was at one point considered for the capital of the new state of Colorado. Although the economy has made a recent shift towards outdoor recreation, mining continues to be an important aspect of the town’s identity, celebrated most famously each August during Boom Days.
Twin Lakes, which sits next to its eponymous lakes a few miles south of Leadville, is home to Interlaken Resort, once a popular international vacation destination. When the nearby lake was dammed, the resort lost popularity and the building was abandoned. It has since been restored and is open to the public, and can be easily accessed via the CDT!
The closest international airport to Leadville and Twin Lakes is Denver International Airport (DEN), which is about 2 hours away via I-70 E. The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is about 45 minutes away via US-24 W and CO-82 E, however this section of CO-82 E is closed from October to May. The longer route is about 2 and a half hours away. Aspen Airport offers direct flights to Salt Lake City and Denver.
Visit LeadvilleTwinLakes.com for a full list of things to do and places to eat and stay.
Length: 5 miles round trip, as an out and back
Directions: From Leadville take US 24 West (south) towards Buena Vista. Turn right on RD 300 West at the sign for the Leadville Fish Hatchery. Make a right on RD 5. At the yield sign, make a left on the paved road (RD 4). A sign for Turquoise Lake is in the median. Stay on RD 4 and follow signs for the Timberline Trailhead located on the west side of the lake. Hike north from Timberline Trailhead 2.5 miles to Galena Lake (1500 feet of elevation gain), then return.
USGS 7.5 Quadrangles: Holy Cross, Ruedi Reservoir, Trails Illustrated Map # 126-Holy Cross, Reudi Reservoir
For More Information:
Pike/San Isabel National Forest http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/
- camping/ lodging
- camp supplies
- Leadville Post Office
- 130 W 5th St, Leadville
- CO 80461
- Community Threads
- 609 Harrison Ave, Leadville
- CO 80461
- 1900 N Poplar Way, Leadville
- CO 80461
- Lake County Public Library
- 1115 Harrison Ave, Leadville
- CO 80461
The Continental Divide Trail can be accessed from a variety of spots in and around Leadville and Twin Lakes, including at Tennessee Pass and historic Camp Hale, home to the training grounds of the 10th Mountain Division, America’s ski soldiers during World War II. The tallest mountain in Colorado, with a summit at 14,440′, Mount Elbert is a quite popular day hike that can be easily accessed from Twin Lakes via the CDT at the South Mount Elbert trailhead. The Timberland trailhead sits west of Turquoise Lake and the Mt. Massive trailhead is just south of Leadville. The Mt. Massive stretch of the CDT is particularly beautiful in the fall, as it is home to large stands of aspens.