The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Leadville

Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Leadville - CMC Leadville students snowshoeing on campus

Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Leadville - CMC Leadville students snowshoeing on campus

Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing winter sports, and for good reason! People all around the world are discovering that snowshoeing is inclusive, inexpensive, and an incredible way to experience nature while getting a great work-out. Here in Leadville, where snow graces our trails from October to May, snowshoeing is a favorite pastime for locals and visitors alike. In fact, this year the 2020 Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships will be held in Leadville, CO from February 28 – March 1, 2020. If you’re new to snowshoeing, or winter sports in general, you’ve come to the right place!

The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Leadville

Snowshoeing is for Everyone

If you can hike, you can snowshoe! Since it is basically hiking on snow with some essential gear, almost anyone can snowshoe. It is easy to learn how to snowshoe, and once you get the used to the feeling of being above the snow it will come naturally. Those new to winter sports often think of skiing, snowboarding, and other snow-sports that may require lessons and expensive gear rentals. Since it’s inexpensive and easy to pick-up, snowshoeing is pretty much the opposite of skiing and snowboarding.

Snowshoe Gear

Snowshoes for rent at the CMC Leadville gear library - snowshoeing in Leadville
Full-time students at Colorado Mountain College Leadville are able to check out snowshoes and other outdoor gear from the CMC Leadville gear library.

A snowshoe is essentially footwear for walking over the snow. The shape distributes your weight over a larger area, preventing you from sinking into the snow. As the name might suggest, it is absolutely necessary to have a pair of snowshoes to enjoy a day of snowshoeing. If you don’t own pair of snowshoes, Leadville Outdoors on Harrison Ave offers rentals all season long.

Snowshoes can attach to almost any footwear, though winter boots or hiking boots are recommended as they are typically waterproof, well insulated, and made for playing in the snow. Trekking poles or ski poles help with balance and stability, especially in powdery conditions, though not always necessary on groomed trails.

What to Wear Snowshoeing

Wear waterproof layers, like snow pants and a hard shell jacket, as well as common winter accessories such as a hat, gloves, and scarf. A pair of high quality winter socks can make all the difference when enjoying a day in cold temperatures. Depending on the length of adventure, wear layers and bring a small backpack to adjust your body temperature.

What to Bring Snowshoeing

Whether your going out for an hour or an entire afternoon, there’s a few items you’ll want to bring snowshoeing in Leadville. The sun can be surprisingly strong at 10,200′ elevation, and it’s a good idea to bring sunglasses and sunscreen out on the trail. Don’t forget to reapply!

Hydration is also critical for exercising at high elevations. Plan your adventure, packing enough water and snacks for energy. It’s also a good idea to bring a trail map, or download one for easy access on your smart phone. It’s easy to get turned around when trails are covered in snow, especially when there’s a fresh dusting of powder.

2019 Colorado Cup snowshow racers descend on the CMC campus trails on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.
2019 Colorado Cup snowshoe racers descend on the CMC campus trails on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.

Where to Snowshoe in Leadville

There are many miles of groomed winter trails in Leadville. The trails are free for public use and offer something for everyone.

  • The East Side Mining District gives winter trail users a sneak peak into Leadville’s colorful mining history with breathtaking views.
  • The Mineral Belt Trail is a 12-mile groomed loop around town, weaving through Leadville’s historic mining district.
  • Turquoise Lake offers a 14-mile loop of groomed trails popular for both motorized and non-motorized winter recreation.
  • The Timberline Trails on campus at Colorado Mountain College Leadville are also open to the public, groomed on a regular schedule and popular for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat-biking.
Snowshoe Racer in the 2018 Colorado Cup snowshoeing in Leadville
A 2018 Colorado Cup competitor snowshoeing on the CMC Leadville campus trails.

Leadville Snowshoe Races

Colorado Mountain College Leadville is excited to host the 2020 Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships February 28 – March 1, 2020. There will be a Junior 5k (19 yrs and under), Men’s 10k, Women’s 10k, Citizen’s 5K (open to all), Kids’ Kilo (1k for kids), and a 10k relay at the Snowshoe Championships. Whether you’re interested in competing or want to cheer on the participants, the championships will be an exciting time to snowshoe in Leadville.

The Colorado Cup Snowshoe Race on January 25, 2020 is another opportunity to strap into snowshoes and have some fun! The Colorado Cup will be held on the groomed Timberline Trails at Colorado Mountain College Leadville. There will be community races like the 1 mile snowshoe stomp for children, a 5k for youth racers and a 10k for advanced runners. The Colorado Cup will serve as the Colorado High School Snowshoe State Championships as well as a qualifier for the U.S. Snowshoe Championships.