Leadville area rife with fall foliage scenery
Ryan Summerlin September 18, 2010
LEADVILLE, Colorado – There are many ways to enjoy the fall foliage in Leadville and Twin Lakes – visitors can go leaf peeping by foot or on horseback, by train or by bike, by jeep or by car. With more than 35,000 acres of Wilderness Area, Colorado’s two highest peaks and crystal-clear lakes and streams, Lake County’s scenery becomes even more beautiful in the fall, when the aspen leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, gold and orange. Throw in a couple of National Historic Districts, more museums per capita than any other Colorado town and a nice selection of affordable inns, lodges and B&Bs, and Lake County has all of the makings of a fall getaway. Fall comes early at this elevation; at 10,152 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in North America. Right now is the best time to catch the foliage and the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byways is one of the best ways to take it all in. Independence Pass, which was named one of “America’s Prettiest Fall Drives” by Forbes.com, connects Twin Lakes and Aspen during the summer months. The views of Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, both reaching more than 14,400 feet, and Twin Lakes, the state’s largest glacial lakes, are impressive backdrops for photographers. The Leadville Colorado & Southern, the highest railroad in the West, offers a 2-and-a-half hour scenic journey daily through Oct. 3. Mountain-top horseback rides are also available, and four-wheel-drive enthusiasts can choose from hundreds of miles of high-country trails. Hiking or biking the paved Mineral Belt Trail, which is ADA-accessible, is one of the most popular ways to view the foliage and, as a bonus, to learn about Leadville’s mining history. The Historic Walking Tour and Route of the Silver Kings also offer visitors the chance to take in the views and the history of this Victorian mining town. There are two options for scenic drives that circle through the area: the Minturn-to- Leadville-to-Twin Lakes-to-Aspen loop and the Copper Mountain-to-Leadville-to-Vail loop. Both of these loops take visitors by Camp Hale, home of the 10th Mountain Division, and through historic downtown Leadville, which is lined with antique stores, specialty shops and eateries. The Leadville Lake County Visitors Center at 809 Harrison Avenue provides free maps, visitors’ guides and information.Located in the geographic center of Colorado, Leadville is 103 miles west of Denver and 129 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, on U.S. Highway 24. Twin Lakes is 15 minutes from Leadville at the eastern entrance to Independence Pass. Go to www.VisitLeadvilleColorado.com or call 888-532-3845 for more information.