Leadville is a historic mining town surrounded by national forest. It is a hiking mecca and attracts many to the Colorado Trail and surrounding 14ers. There are also many other hikes in Leadville, that don’t require as big a commitment. If you like wildflowers and lakes, see the list below:
The Sangree Froelicher Hut Trail
The Sangree Froelicher Hut Trail is a 6.6-mile hike in the San Isabel National Forest near Leadville, Colorado. The parking area is easily accessible right off Hwy 91.
The lightly trafficked trail is both single-track and road with a handful of creek crossings. It passes through forests and wildflower meadows with sporadic views. There are also a couple old log cabins along the way. Walking past the hut and up the road provides expansive views of the area.
The Timberline Lake Trail
The Timberline Lake Trail is located near Leadville, Colorado. The parking is easily accessible in a two-wheel drive vehicle. This hike begins in the San Isabel National Forest and passes into the Holy Cross Wilderness Area.
The 5.5-mile lollipop loop is heavily trafficked. The trail, which travels mostly through forest, requires a handful of creek crossings and is flush with mushrooms, at least during this rainy year.
The greenish brown lake is surrounded by evergreens which provide shade all around its shoreline. Its northeastern shore is less traveled and thus more difficult to navigate, but in all this is a nice hike near Leadville.
Bear Lake via the Colorado Trail
The hike to Bear Lake via the Colorado Trail is a moderate, 6-mile roundtrip. The rocky trail climbs through forest in the Mount Massive Wilderness.
At the trail intersection, to visit Bear Lake, go right. This trail is lightly trafficked and in places easy to lose, but you can see the lake with trees on the far side and boulders on the near side, so head that way.
Along the Colorado Trail, there are also several lakes, so you won’t be disappointed if you like hiking to lakes. This is definitely a great hike in Leadville.
Saint Kevin Lake via the Colorado Trail
The hike to Saint Kevin Lake begins at the same trailhead as Bear Lake which also shares the same parking as Timberline Lake.
The 8.6 hike may be done on its own or combined with Bear Lake, only adding a little over half-a-mile.
Be sure to have the AllTrails map with you, as after the left turn at the second trail junction, there is an easily missable turn to the left. Fallen logs make the trail look closed, but I think it is to keep CDT hikers from turning too soon, as the trail to Saint Kevin Lake is extremely well maintained.
After making this turn, the trail climbs out of the forest and into meadows of Indian Paintbrush. It gets a little steep, but the lake is the prettiest of all of the ones I mentioned in this post and worth the effort!
The lake is stocked with cutthroat trout that were hitting the surface regularly as pika chirped on the rocky edge. This is my favorite hike in Leadville that isn’t a 14er.
Swamp Lake Trail
I’d pick one of the aformentioned hikes in Leadville, before I’d pick this 6.8 out-and-back trail, but if you are running out of lake hikes, Swamp Lake Trail is an option.
Its trailhead begins off the highway, but it is also reachable from the Leadville National Fish Hatchery, which you should stop by after the hike anyway. A pullout on the highway, allows enough room for a few cars.
The trail climbs up a wash through the forest and isn’t terribly pretty at first. But then it smooths out peacefully wends through the evergreens.
Toward the end, there is an old stove from a fallen log cabin. Then it is best to follow the cairns to the appropriately named Swamp Lake with a view of surrounding 14ers in the distance. Bring a second pair of socks as the marshy area is rather boggy.
All of these hikes in Leadville are moderate in nature, with Saint Kevin Lake being the hardest and Timberline Lake being the easiest.