Turquoise Lake Trail west of Leadville, CO

This trail is basically flat by CO standards and follows the east and north shoreline of a high mountain lake. Elevation is close to 9700', with some short rolling hills. Footing is generally very good near the dam on the east side but gets rockier and hillier as you get to the west end near the May Queen campground. Part of the Turquoise Lake 20km and LT 100 races. The trail is about 6.6 miles long. You can go out and back as long as you wish or circle the lake by coming back on the paved road on the south side of the lake for a 12.4 mile/20 km loop. This road is hillier but has very little traffic. Trail is generally clear of snow from mid May-October.

Directions: Go to the only stop light on the highway (Harrison Ave.) in downtown Leadville. Go west, downhill, on west 6th St. for .9 miles until you come to a "T" intersection. Turn right at this intersection then fork left at the first fork in 200 yards. You are now on county road #4. Take this straight down until you cross the railroad tracks and river in 2 miles and then head up the hill into the national forest another mile until you get to the dam (Follow sign to Turquoise Lake). Park here and pick up the trail next to the lake in the trees just before the dam. There are numerous forest service restrooms with water in the first 2.25 miles from the dam. Also the same at the other end at May Queen. May be closed after labor day.

Views: A great view of the Sawatch Range extending south from the lake, with the 2 highest points in the Rockies, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, right there. Also great 360 view from the far west side of the dam of much of the Mosquito Range to the East and also the Sangre de Cristo Range down valley 65 miles away. The air is thin and usually clear. Make sure you stop on the trail to take in the views from small bridges and hill tops.

Food: Gringoes down from Safeway on the highway just north of town has great big bean burritos for less than a buck each.