"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Leadville, CO - Mining District

Leadville, CO
Boondocking - National Forest

The Mineral Belt Trail does a loop through the historical mining town of Leadville. It's a paved, high-elevation (over 10,000 feet) trail offers with amazing views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountains.  It winds through pine forests, aspen groves and meadows. The trail has access to the Leadville National Historic Landmark District and Leadville Mining District.

There are interpretive signs and markers along the way that tell the stories of the famous people who got rich off the mines. In winter the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter biking.
As you go around the trail you can see many, many old mines.  It blew us away just how many mines were up here in this one area.  It's such an eerie place.  You can walk around just about anywhere.  Some areas are fenced off for safety as there are open mine shafts, collapsed and partially collapsed buildings and retention ponds full of dangerous chemical run-off.
There are some superfund cleanup sites here.  Pretty but dangerous!

As you walk around you can find all kinds of old cans, bottles, nails, etc, leftover from long ago.

You do get beautiful views of Lake Turquoise down below.  We are camped near the lake.

While doing some geocaching in the area, we came upon the remnants of an old building. Through the window you can see Turquoise Lake.

If you look closely, you can see Steve in the top of the window in red up the hillside.

I don't remember what these are called, but they hold different parts of the stone walls together.

The tailing piles can be very colorful.
I don't know how or why they got this checkerboard look to this pile of tailings.

Driving around some of the roads in this area there are numerous tracks for the mine carts.
It had been raining off and on most of the day.  Good thing Steve checked this out before continuing up this dirt road as it was a very deep sink hole and the cliff side is very steep.  If we continued to drive up with our heavy dually truck the road could've caved in.  We decided to back down instead.
Driving back to town we found another cache in an old cemetery where one of Buffalo Bill Cody's pals is buried.   He and a friend paid for the headstone.  So much history in this town.

No more time left to do the tour, but we'll be bad another day.  It's a huge museum.
I stopped in at the library to work on the blog.  They kept some of the original furnishings.  It's a gorgeous library.  Loved all the leaded glass in the cabinets.  What a nice place to work in.
There are so many cute and colorful Victorian homes in town.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of them.  They do an incredible job with the paint and detail work on them.
These poppies are planted in almost every yard. 
We got back before the next thunderstorm rolled in.  They've been a pretty daily occurrence in the late afternoons. This was the largest hail we've had.  It made so much noise!  I sat outside under the awning for a bit until the winds kicked up and I had to go inside #1 I needed to put the awning up and #2 the hail HURT!  It was the size of my big toenail.
I didn't get the awning down quick enough and while it is tilted a bit so rain runs off without making a huge pocket of water, it was warm enough that it was sticking to it.  I didn't notice that quick enough and next thing I heard a bad metal sound.  The weight of the melting hail caved one of the awning arms down.  Yikes!  Awning damage is not cheap to fix.  Steve came out and held up the awning while I got the auto button to bring it in.  With a little adjustment and some WD-40, all is well.  No permanent damage.  Thank goodness!


  1. This looks like our kind of place!! No one has written about Leadville like this. We would love the Mining Trail and poking around the old mines. Great photos!!! Love the lake through the window:) Glad you checked out the library. We'll make sure to stop there. Adorable house!! Thanks for sharing! Leadville is on the list!! Good your awning survived the storm:)

    1. Pam, we loved Leadville! So much mining history. And you can guess how difficult it was for them back in the 1800s to get food up there and survive all winter at 10K'. We were there 2 weeks and could've stayed longer.

  2. Leadville is a great place to be in the heat of the summer with Turquoise Lake and the Mineral Belt Trail. You took some very nice photos. Glad your awning is ok.

    1. We agree. The weather was great except for the occasional thunderstorm. It's one of our top 3 places in Colorado.

  3. What a beautiful library, Deb! Very well maintained.

    Glad the hail wasn't bigger and that your awning survived. We just completed repairs to both vehicles and our fifth wheel this week from a June hailstorm. Thousands of $$$ in damage. Hail was golf ball sized. Some of the Lifetime picnic tables in our park even had holes punched in them.

    1. I remember your storm! At least you got your repairs in before fall/winter comes. Golfball hail. Crazy! So do the Lifetime tables have a warranty :-)

  4. Looks like a very cool area. Would love to walk through that old mining area and check it out. We have yet to run into hail while on the road yet and am certainly not looking forward to it when we do!

    1. With all your iterating stories, I can't believe you haven't had hail yet! We were told it's not IF you'll run into hail, it's WHEN ;-) Nothing damaging so far.

  5. Quaint little houses and old libraries are favorites so I especially love those pics. We have friends in Leadville and really have to spend some time in this beautiful area. Looks like so many fun things to see and do!

    1. You have friends there? How nice! If you spent a longer time in that area hopefully you'd adjust to the altitude rather than a shorter trip. It's one of our favorite towns now!


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