CDT: Twin Lakes (CO-82) to Copper Mountain (CO-91)

Copper Mountain

Leadville

Salida

A narrow singletrack passage paralleling US-24 to the west as the CDT circles around Leadville.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
93 km
Ascent
3.3 km
Descent
3.2 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
2.8 km
High Point
3.7 km
Gradient
CDT: Twin Lakes (CO-82) to Copper Mountain (CO-91) Map

This section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) begins at Twin Lakes, just east of the acclaimed general store on CO-82. Long-term parking is unavailable, but several campsites and campgrounds can be found in the vicinity if you need somewhere to stay for the night.

Description

For those hoping to check out the local trail communities, Leadville is situated slightly north of Twin Lakes and is considered one of the region's best trail towns. You have the option to catch a ride into town at this trailhead or wait until Tennessee Pass, just over 30 miles in. Surrounded by numerous 14ers, the city was once a hub for gold, silver, and lead mining, though "the economy has made a recent shift towards outdoor recreation," the CDT Coalition notes.

Shorter than other segments of the CDT, this section avoids the high peaks and stays at a more reasonable elevation, offering countless access points into town. Most of the trail wanders through stands of pine, aspen, and fir, avoiding the barren alpine terrain that you can expect slightly south on the trail.

While the trail summits no major peaks, this area is host to numerous day hikes, including the second tallest peak in Colorado, Mt. Elbert (14,433'). The Southeast Ridge route is an excellent way to avoid the crowds, while still reaching the summit, which is only second in stature to California's 14,505' Mt. Whitney. Of course, nearby Mt. Massive (14,421') is an excellent alternative, though the Andersons' suggested route entails a steep approach with "more bang-for-your-hiking-buck" in each mile. Native Lake is another excellent day hike in the vicinity that is far less difficult.

Other than a short passage between state highways near the end, a good portion of this segment either runs through - or adjacent to - Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. "Dry lodgepole pine forests, typical of the eastern slopes of the divide, cover much of the lower elevations and give way to spruce and fir higher up before all trees yield to alpine tundra," this source notes, and the namesake peak is noted as the second-highest summit in Colorado.

This CDT segment ends at CO-91, adjacent to Copper Mountain Ski Area and Wheeler Junction, and within sight of Interstate 70. Overnight parking is available, and resupply is an option in Breckinridge and Frisco, though you may want to continue hiking another 13-miles to Gold Hill (CO-19) for easier access.

Sources: https://continentaldividetrail.org/ https://wilderness.net/visit-wilderness/?ID=377

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September, October

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area