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The Mineral Belt Trail offers a loop through Leadville, which is tucked into the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. This paved, high-elevation (10,000+ feet) trail has spectacular views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountains as it journeys among pine and aspen trees. The trail also provides access to the Leadville National Historic Landmark District and Leadville Mining District.
Leadville, as one might deduce from its name, was once a mining boomtown, beginning with the discovery of gold here in 1859. The three former railroads on which portions of the Mineral Belt Trail were built, served these mines, including the trail’s namesake Mineral Belt Line. Many historical relics from this era—such as an old mining tower, ore carts, a mine shoot and other aged equipment—have been placed along the route to serve as an outdoor mining museum. All of these items were donated by locals to honor their community’s heritage. Interpretative signage, placed every quarter-mile along the trail, details the riches and risks of the mining industry, shares stories about the city’s most memorable inhabitants and expounds on other interesting historical tidbits.
And railroad history buffs take note: In downtown Leadville, just a half mile from the trailhead at Ice Palace Park, you'll find the depot to board the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, a scenic excursion train ride, on which the conductor tells the history of the region's railroads and the city. As you pedal along the trail, you'll be able to glimpse its tracks—and even the train itself, if your timing is right— along the northeastern part of the trail loop.
The rail-trail has an average grade of 3 percent with a maximum grade of 5 percent. If you begin your journey at Ice Palace Park, which is between Mile Marker 1 and 2, and travel in a clockwise direction, you will have a gentle but steady climb to Mile Marker 5, and then enjoy a rewarding downhill ride to trail’s end. When planning a trip on this trail, also note that there are few restrooms and water fountains along the way, so plan accordingly.
In winter, the Mineral Belt Trail is groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and riding on snow with fat tire bikes.
The best place to begin your journey is just north of downtown at Ice Palace Park (Harrison Ave. and W. 10th St.), where parking, restrooms, and drinking water are available. On the west side of town, another open is the parking lot at Washington St. and W. 6th St. A mile farther south, there is also an unpaved parking lot at the Dutch Henry Trailhead off US Highway 24, west of College Road.
My wife and I rented bikes from Cycles of Life in Leadville Co. My wife rented an E bike and I rented a Gravel bike. Both bikes were excellent bikes. The Gravel bike was a carbon Fiber Niner RLT 1x (almost $6 k bike!). The shop also had excellent service with bike instructions and directions to the trail. Anyway, we rode the trail clockwise going up for about 6 miles then back down. The trail was macadam the whole way and very scenic views and many historic mining sites along the way. My wife appreciated the E bike as our total ascent from the shop was about 800 ft for the ride. I loved the ride and not many trail users.
My friend Mary and I do this ride every summer. In the fall with the aspens turning can’t be missed. The long way up is worth the ride down. Not steep, just an even ride up. Feel free to stop and read history signs and just look around you. C Cravens
Rode the loop with my wife many years ago and we enjoyed it greatly. Maybe it's time to return.
Wonderful ride! Beautifully maintained trail. Gorgeous scenery. Well marked signage. Will repeat this ride again!
What a great ride! Freshly paved the entire 11.5 miles with extremely interesting history plagues every few hundred yards. The mining history and historic equipment was fascinating! Go clockwise from Ice Palace Park for the best experience!
We loved this trail! My family, which includes an 8-year-old child, rode the entire loop in a clockwise direction from Ice Palace Park at the north end of the city. Traveling this direction allowed us to kick off our ride with lots of historical goodies; many mining relics lie along the northeastern side of the loop; historical signage tells you the story of the mining industry here. Shortly after leaving the park, you'll need to cross Highway 24, but as Leadville is a relatively quiet town, this was not difficult; there is also a brief on-road section (about 200 yards) along 12th Street, but it's a very quiet road, so even novice riders should feel comfortable. As you continue past mile markers 2 and 3, the trail is absolutely beautiful and lined with pine trees. You'll see a glimpse of paralleling railroad tracks here and, if your timing is right, a scenic excursion train as well. The depot for the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad is right in town, if you want to add a sight-seeing tour to your trip. Towards the middle of the trail, you'll see more aspens and, in mid-September, they were gorgeously golden. One of our favorite parts of the trail was the awesome downhill ride with fun twists and turns between mile markers 8 and 10 on the southwestern side of the loop. As you approach the end of the trail, at mile marker 11, the trail becomes more residential and you'll see Leadville's downtown. NOTE: The one downside to the trail (and the only reason I didn't give it 5 out of 5 stars) is that there are almost no amenities; we recommended bringing lots of water with you and beginning/ending your journey in Ice Palace Park, where there are clean restrooms and a drinking fountain on the side of the building.
Such a cool trail. Scenery is amazing. The history of the place is spectacular. It feels like you are on a gorgeous 12 mike long outdoor museum. Not crowded whatsoever. Can’t wait to do it again
...after a long climb up through the town, into the hills, and past the old mines. On my recumbent, I felt like Luke Skywalker zipping through the forests of Endor on a speeder bike. It's a great run, lots of dramatic scenes, full of history. I've promised myself to come back once a year.
9/7/2017 Did a loop of the Mineral Belt Trail. Started at Ice Palace Park. Went Clockwise around loop. Some Uphill, Downhill, then Uphill again.
Stopped in Leadville for Pizza. High Mountain Pies - Great Pies.
We started at the western parking lot and rode clockwise following the mile markers. A steady but slight uphill to the 5 mile marker. A downhill thrill ride all the way down to the parking lot. Beautiful scenery and with lots of information along the way. Almost like riding through an outdoor museum.
Well worth the ride. If you are just passing through Leadville, I would highly recommend taking an hour or so to ride this trail.
We were visiting the area and decided to check out this trail. We parked at the large, gravel parking lot located on Highway 24 just west of College Road (N39.239.50 W106.30437). The parking lot is located at MM0. The trail is about 12 miles long. Trailhead parking is also available at Ice Palace Park and Lake County Recreation Complex.
As others recommended, we cycled in a clockwise direction. Immediately, as flatlanders, we felt the impact of cycling at over 9,000’ elevation. It is uphill until about MM5.5 The first mile or so takes you through a neighborhood and industrial area before continuing up towards the mining areas. There are a number of wonderful interpretive displays along the way if you are interested in getting more information on the history of mining in Leadville. There is a surface tour of the Matchless Mine which is one of the mines that you cycle pass. I believe tours are given at 1 and 3pm in season for a fee. You could time your ride to coincide with a guided tour or check out the place on your own.
At about MM5 and at 10,606’, the trail starts it descent. There are a few more interpretive displays along the way but it is kind of hard to stop when you are enjoying a great downhill.
There are no benches, picnic tables or water along the trail. The trail is asphalt, very wide and was in excellent condition. This is a gorgeous trail and a great way to see the impact of mining on this small town. Highly recommended.
Great ride! Preferred the clockwise loop over counterclockwise but both were great. Not many on the trail midmorning on a Sunday. Amazing views. Worth the drive
All the history of the mining belt region of is right there. The path is very smooth asphalt and in very good condition. The views on this trail are simply aswesome as you have views the the two largest peaks in Colorado. We have a second home at Copper Mountain Ski resort and this trail is a must do for me and my family every year.
Rode this one on Saturday, 31 Aug. The trail circles around Leadville passing through the mining district. We entered town from the north and just a block off the main drag through town we found the Ice Palace park. Good parking and right next to the trail. From there we travelled clockwise uphill into the mining district. The trail has many informational signs along the trail telling about the history of the area. For anyone interested in mining or railroading history this is the trail to follow. After about 3.5 miles we reached the summit (10,606 ft) of the trail, started at elevation of about 10,150 ft. Then it was downhill from there for the next 6 miles. The trail wanders through the woods to the low point of the trail. This is where the main trailhead is located, just on the edge of Leadville and can be found on the right when entering town coming from the south (at least that is how it looks on the map). We will certainly revisit this trail, it was very enjoyable.
Biked this trail late August 2012. Had been to Leadville many times and never biked the trail. Can't believe we never did. Loved it. Great surface and so much to see. Thunderstorm approaching so we had to hurry along. Would do it again and stop to read more of the interpretive signs. Riding hybrids.
I took a road trip and brought my bicycle in the back of the truck. This was my favorite town. The bike trail is good. Really good. But the town is absolutely wonderful! I stayed at a hostel in Leadville run by a cool guy named Wild Bill. It was really fun and affordable. I got to meet hikers taking a break from their Continental Divide hike. There was a student staying there. And some people who were doing temporary work in Leadville.
If you live within three hours of here, it is your duty to come to Leadville and check it out. Stay at least one night. You won't regret it.
If you don't plan on doing the whole 11 miles. I would park and start the trail from poverty flats and ride away from town. The views of the mountains are spectacular. The altitude does pose a challenge. Overall one of the better bike rides I've done and would do it again.
"17 June 2007. I rate this as one of the best trails in the country, it is well maintained trail with many historical and nature signs. Riding my Tri-Cruiser, I started at the US Hwy 24 Trail head ,N39.23950 W106.30437 altitude 9980’. It drops to 9,900’ then climbs in the next 5 miles to 10,644’. The next 7 miles are down hill except for one short climb, then through Leadville back to the US 24 Trail Head. It is much easier to stop and read the signs on the way up, on the way down it wears the brake pads if you stop at all the signs. Recommend starting in the morning to avoid showers in the afternoon. "
"July 10, 2005: Great trail but watch out for the altitude! Leadville is over 11,000 ft in elevation and the trail goes up from town. We went clockwise, starting from the East end of town. Long uphill climb without a lot of shade however the ride down from the summit was wonderful – scenic, tree lined and pleasant. Only downside was abysmal trail map. Difficult to read and where posted on ample information boards, never told you where you were. You couldn’t read the maps so you had to guess. The restored mining structures were well documented and the trail took you close to them. A must trail."
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