Mineral Belt Trail
This 11.6-mile, all-season, paved ADA-accessible trail offers unsurpassed views of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges, along with a glimpse at some of the area's most significant historic sites. The trail loops the city of Leadville, traveling through aspen groves, conifer forests, wildflower meadows, and open vista sage parks. With numerous trailheads and access points, it serves as a pedestrian gateway to the 70-square-block Leadville National Historic Landmark District and the famed Leadville Mining District. In spite of the rugged terrain through which it passes, the entire trail is ADA accessible.
In the winter, the Mineral Belt Trail is groomed for skate skiing, cross-country skiing, winter biking and snowshoeing. In warmer months, it's perfect for hiking, biking or rollerblading. In the fall, the colorful foliage provides an incredible backdrop to an already spectacular setting. In addition, there's a motorized van tour each September for seniors.
The Mineral Belt Trail provides access to some of the community's most significant historic and cultural resources, from evidence of early exploration to the transportation systems that were built to service the active mines, the community that sprang up to meet the needs of the residents, and the smelting industry that processed the ores.
The trail integrates portions of the grades of the three major rail lines that served the Leadville Mining District around the turn of the century. Its alignment parallels California Gulch, site of Leadville's first gold strike and earliest settlement, and cuts through the heart of the mineral belt that earned Leadville the moniker of "Colorado's Silver City." The trail instills in you the sense of the pioneering spirit of the rugged men and women who endured the unbelievable hardships of the harsh alpine environment to scrape and gouge a living from the unforgiving mountainsides, and carve Leadville from the inhospitable landscape above 10,000 feet.
Along the way, the trail chronicles the rags-to-riches stories of such notable figures as Horace and Baby Doe Tabor, Meyer Guggenheim, Charles Boettcher, David May, Father John Dyer and the Unsinkable Molly Brown. It also tells the story of the building of the "Cloud City," whose ornate Victorian architecture once housed the entrepreneurs, gamblers, miners, outlaws, and ladies of the evening of Colorado lore.
(Winter photo by Leaf Treinen. Fall and summer photos by Steve Sunday.)