The Ultimate Guide to Winter Recreation in Leadville

ultimate guide to winter recreation in leadville

ultimate guide to winter recreation in leadville

What is there to do in Leadville in the winter? Plenty!

Leadville offers a vast opportunity of outdoor activities to do during the winter months. Whether you like to hike, snowshoe, ski, or bike there is something for everyone. This guide will present resources on Leadville trail systems and ski areas as well as gear rental options so that you have the proper equipment and knowledge for outdoor recreation. 

student cross country skiing at cmc leadville

Cross Country Skiing

Groomed trails are conveniently located on campus for students, staff, and faculty to enjoy. Trails are maintained by the Ski Area Operations program and the Grooming Operations class. The campus trails, also known as Timberline Trails, connect with the Mineral Belt Trail to provide many miles of free, groomed cross country ski trails in Leadville.

The Mount Massive Golf Course offers 17 kilometers of skate and classic ski and snowshoe trails. Their website, appropriately named leadvillecrosscountryski.com, has trail maps, grooming and conditions reports, and ski rental information for those interested in cross country skiing in Leadville. 

The Tennessee Pass Nordic Center provides more than 27 kilometers of set track and wider skate lanes on a groomed trail system. Their rental program offers classic XC skis, skate skis, fat bikes, and snowshoes available. Visit the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center website to download trail maps and explore rental rates and lessons.

Leah Elkins, Outdoor Studies student at CMC Leadville explores the campus trails in snowshoes.

Snowshoeing in Leadville

Snowshoeing is inexpensive and easy to pick-up. There are many miles of groomed winter trails in Leadville, including Timberline Trails, East Side Mining District and Turquoise Lake. The trails are free for public use and offer something for everyone.

cmc student skiing down the slope at Ski Cooper

Leadville Ski Resorts

Ski Cooper is just 12 Miles from CMC Leadville, and the closest ski area to Leadville. It is a smaller ski area perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers looking to hone their skills on the snow. Bonus tip! Ski Cooper has one of the most affordable lift tickets in Colorado! 

For those seeking larger and steeper terrain, Copper Mountain resort is a great choice. Copper is 26 Miles from CMC’s campus and offers a larger mountain resort experience with a wide range of trails and a terrain park for all abilities.

Cloud City Ski club hill at CMC Leadville with Lake County fun place sign

Sledding

Break out your tubes and toboggans because we’ve got a public sledding hill on campus! The Dutch Henry Tubing Hill is open from December to March and is maintained and groomed by the Ski Area Operations program. If you don’t have your own tube, they are available to rent on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 4pm.

Trail Systems 

The East Side Mining District gives winter trail users a sneak peak into Leadville’s colorful mining history with breathtaking views. This area offers a wide range of groomed and un-groomed terrain and is popular for fat biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Winter trail maps are available at Leadville Outdoors.

The Mineral Belt Trail is a 12-mile groomed loop around town, weaving through Leadville’s historic mining district and connecting with the Timberline Trails on campus at CMC Leadville.

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.

Turquoise Lake offers a 14-mile loop of groomed trails popular for both motorized and non-motorized winter recreation.

Groomed Timberline Trails in Leadville photo by Sterling Mudge
Groomed fat biking trails in Leadville. PC: Sterling Mudge

Trail Resources

Cloud City Wheelers are a local bike club and a great resource for additional information on winter fat biking. It is also a great way to get involved in the community.

Trail Websites and Apps

These days most of us carry a smart phone with the ability to pull up maps, apps and even trail reviews. Though there are many options out there, we find Trail Forks, All Trails and the Colorado Trail Explorer to be great resources. If you’re looking for a comprehensive mapping tool, CalTopo is an excellent option.

Snowmobiling in Leadville

If you have your own snowmobile, avalanche training and the proper backcountry safety gear, there are lots of options for snowmobile trails in Leadville. 

Turquoise Lake is a 14-mile loop utilized by both motorized and non-motorized recreational users. Be friendly, respectful, keep your speed down and be aware of other trail users in both directions. 

The East Side Mining District can be accessed via snowmobile from 5th street or 7th street. It is a series of shared-use trails groomed during the winter for easy access to the Mining District by snowmobiles, skis, snowshoes, or hiking.

Winter Safety Precautions

Be Prepared

Recreating in the winter requires more preparation than going on a hike in the summer. Remember to always have appropriate clothing and equipment, adequate food and water, as well as reliable navigation. If you’re looking for a complete list of gear to travel with in the winter, REI provides lots of great articles and recommendations for winter hiking. 

Students in a Level 1 Avalanche Training class at CMC Leadville

Avalanches

Avalanches do happen in winter environments, and Leadville is no exception. We recommend that anyone interested in any form of winter recreation in the backcountry seek out formal avalanche training, beginning with an Avalanche Level 1 and Avalanche Rescue class.

If you’re just starting to consider winter recreation activities in the backcountry, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and their Know Before You Go program offers a great jumping off point for an overview of backcountry safety and avalanche danger.

Colorado Mountain College offers both the recreational and professional tracks for avalanche training and can help you choose the right backcountry safety course based on your experience level and goals.

Never travel in avalanche terrain without the proper equipment and education!

Winter Gear Rentals in Leadville

The Climax Building Gear Room on campus has fat bikes, snowshoes, and cross country skis available to Colorado Mountain College Leadville students. All full time students are able to rent out gear at no cost!

If you’re not a CMC student yet but you’re a community member, Get Outdoors Leadville! also offers fat bike and cross country ski rentals. Memberships start at $15 donations for students and $30 for Lake County residents.

Leadville Outdoors and Mountain Market is your local Leadville gear shop. Here you’ll find all of your winter recreation gear needs to rent or to buy. Their rentals include alpine touring skis, cross-country skis, and metal edged cross-country skis. Each of those ski packages includes the skis, boots, and poles, and the AT packages also includes skins. They also offer miscellaneous rentals including snowshoes, avalanche kits, crampons, microspikes, ice axes, bear canisters, poles, and gear sleds. You can also pick up a map of the groomed winter trails in the Leadville Mining District as well as a great selection of guide books and snacks!

Cycles of Life is the local bike shop and a great resource for 4-season cycling enthusiasts. They have an excellent selection of winter fat bike rentals and summer mountain bike rentals and are a knowledgeable resource for all things fat biking in Leadville.

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