If you visit any of the merchants listed below, please mention that you heard about them through Mount Elbert Lodge.
The Twin Lakes - Leadville area is criss-crossed with trails that will take you along mountain streams, into the abandoned mining district or up some of Colorado's highest peaks, Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, La Plata and others. We have included links to some information about some of the trails and will be adding our own descriptions for others as time goes along.
Dexter Cabin on the trail to Interlaken has been restored and is often available to tour in the summertime.
Difficulty level: easy
Time to hike: less than 1 hour to Interlaken Resort
Directions to Trailhead:
From Mount Elbert Lodge drive 10 miles east (down the valley) on Hwy 82. If you need some water or other supplies be sure and stop in at The Twin Lakes General Store as you go through Twin Lakes. Take County Road 25, the first dirt road to the right after you cross Lake Creek below the dam. Follow this road back along the lake as far as possible and park in the dirt parking area. The trail starts at the Forest Service message board in the northwest corner of the dirt area.
Walk west up the hill, traveling parallel to the lake. The first section of this trail is also part of the Colorado Trail. About 1 mile in, the Colorado Trail makes a sharp left and starts to climb. For Interlaken, proceed along the lower trail to the old resort. The trail rolls along the edge of Twin Lakes and offers wonderful views of Mt. Elbert. Your destination, the turn of the century resort of Interlaken, is now unoccupied but restoration work continues on the buildings.
Interlaken restoration information
North Fork of Lake Creek Trail (also the trail to Blue Lake and Saddle Lake):
Difficulty level: easy (medium to Blue Lake (12,460 ft), medium to Saddle Lake (12,400 ft)
Time to hike: about 2 hours up to Blue Lake, 3 hours to Saddle Lake
Directions to trailhead:
From Mount Elbert Lodge drive 8.1 miles west (up the valley) on Hwy 82. Just before the first tight switchback, pull off the highway to the right on a dirt road (there has been a sign for North Fork of Lake Creek), drive in 50 yards to a gate and park.
This trail starts as a jeep road and quickly turns into a trail. It goes up the bottom of the North Fork of Lake Creek valley with timbered slopes on your left and the bare slopes of Mount Champion on your right. The stream is lined with willows and there are a lot of brook trout in the stream. In early and mid summer there are wonderful fields of flowers along the trail.
The trail to Blue Lake cuts off to the left just after you cross the stream once you've entered the wilderness area. The Blue Lake trail is not well marked and it is fairly steep while going up through the timber.
The main trail continues up the north fork and the head of the valley splits into 2 valleys.
Take the right hand (east) fork and the trail gets steeper just as you approach Saddle Lake. Just 100 yards beyond Saddle Lake is the Continental Divide (12,420 ft) and you can look into the Fryingpan drainage of the west slope.
These lakes tend to thaw out in late June and from ice out to early October can be great cutthroat trout fishing.
Black Cloud Trail (one of the routes to Mount Elbert):
Difficulty level: medium
Time to hike: 1 hour to first stream crossing, 2 hours to tree line, 8- 12 hours round trip to Mount Elbert.
Directions to Trailhead:
Black Cloud is the shortest and steepest of the 3 routes up Mount Elbert. This trail starts 100 yards east of Mount Elbert Lodge. Turn into the small drive way on the north side of the road where there is parking for space for 3 or 4 cars. After about an hour you will cross the stream, then a second stream crossing 200 yards further. For the first 2 hours this is a good trail, a bit steep in places but nothing technical. Once above tree line, the trail becomes quite steep as it climbs a scree slope up to the ridge that leads to South Mount Elbert. For those who want to climb to the top of Mount Elbert, the round trip usually takes our guests 8-12 hours.
The Mineral Belt trail is a loop around the Leadville Mining District that is great for strolling, biking, x-country skiing or snowshoeing.
If you are wishing to hire a guide for your hike, please contact:
High Mountain Institute - 719-486-8200 extension 107 ask for Libby.
Sawatch Guides - 970-485-3752 ask for Heather.
Snowshoeing and Cross or Back country Skiing
- The Mount Elbert area is a great place to snowshoe or ski as there are trails for every experience level. If you stay with us we do have a limited number of snowshoes available for rent or you may rent them and all cross-country equipment from:
The Trailhead (in Buena Vista) 719-395-8001. These great folks rent snowshoes, cross-country and downhill ski equipment. They are right on your way if you are coming to visit us from the south.
- While you are enjoing the solitude and quiet of the Twin Lakes area, remember it is just a 45 minute drive to Ski Cooper, Lake County's small family mountain or an hours drive to Copper Mountain. Just fifteen more minutes drive and you could be in the hustle and bustle of Vail or Beaver Creek Ski areas.
Sage Outdoor Adventures Granite CO and Beaver Creek, 970-476-3700, A wonderful group of folks who's adventures get the highest marks.
Our guest's favorite folks to ride with are:
Halfmoon Packing and Outfitting LLC - (north of Leadville) 719-486-4570
Granite Mountain Outfitters- 10.4 miles south of Poncha Springs Colorado, 719-530-0480 / Cell: 719-221-3479
Wilderness Aware - Buena Vista Colorado, 800-462-7238
Again based on guest feedback:
Wilderness Aware Rafting Buena Vista Colorado, 800-462-7238, A great group of folks, they have whitewater rafting tours for all skill levels including families and have one of the best safety records in the industry.
Sage Outdoor Adventures Granite CO and Beaver Creek, 970-476-3700, Snow sports in the winter and water sports in summer, Sage does it all.
Boat Tours of Twin Lakes and Interlaken Historic Site - Twin Lakes Colorado, 866-936-3654, Call for reservations and information. These great folks launch from Red Rooster day use area accessed through Whitestar Campground on the upper lake.
Twin Lakes Canoe and Kayak - Twin Lakes Colorado, 719-251-9961, Just like the name sounds, these folks rent Canoes and Kayaks for use on Twin or Turquoise Lakes. Open typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Twin Lakes General Store: - Stop in on your way to your special hole for supplies, fishing licenses and the latest tips on what's hot and where.
Arkanglers: - Great folks for guided fishing trips and supplies.
Forest Service - list of mountain bike trails in our area.
Mineral Belt Trail: - The Mineral Belt trail is a loop around the Leadville Mining District that is great for strolling, biking, x-country skiing or snowshoeing.
The Trailhead - (719)395-8001; bicycle rentals and outdoor specialties.
The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad - (719)486-3936 - Discover a hidden gem high above the clouds in the Colorado Rocky Mountains...
The Georgetown Loop Railroad - 1-888-4-LOOP-RR (1-888-456-6777) Ride behind a steam powered locomotive through the Colorado Rocky Mountains, over the loop's high trestle. This train is about one and a half hour drive from the lodge.
Buena Vista Heritage Museum - 511 E. Main St. - 719-395-8458
National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum - Open daily May through October 9-5, Monday through Friday November through April 10-2, winter weekends by appointment. 120 W. 9th Street, P O Box 981, Leadville, CO 80461 - 719-486-1229. Fee.
The Matchless Mine - 414 W. 7th Street, Leadville, CO 80461 719- 486-3900 or 719-486-1899. Guided above ground tour of the mine associated with Horace and Baby Doe Tabor.
Leadville Fish Hatchery
Healy House Museum
Ghost towns up the Clear Creek valley
Please mention Mount Elbert Lodge when you call for reservations at any of these restaurants.
The Twin Lakes Inn- Twin Lakes 719-486-7965 - Formerly The Nordic Inn and then Inn of the Black Wolf. Just 4 miles away in Twin Lakes, with great dinners. Please call for reservations.
Casa del Sol - Buena Vista 719-395-8810 - Capture the flavor of an old Southwest adobe hacienda (our favorite Mexican dining in Buena Vista.)
Tennessee Pass Cookhouse - A unique dining experience 719-486-1750
Tennessee Pass Cafe - Leadville 719-486-8101
Jan's Smoke Free Restaurant - Buena Vista 719-395-6940
Mountain High Rentals - 719-486-1338
Crazy Horse Jeep Rental - 1-(800) 888-7320; 719-395-2323; 33975 Hwy 24 Buena Vista
St. Elmo General Store - 719-395-2117
Nova Guides (Vail valley) - 888-949-6682
Healing Through Care and Touch - Energy medicine and massage - Twin Lakes - 719-221-2322
Cottonwood Hot Springs (west of Buena Vista) - 719-395-6434
Mount Princeton Hot Springs (west of Nathrop) - 719-395-2361