Mine an adventure on Leadville trail
LEADVILLE, Colo. ” If you are a mining history buff (and who in their right mind isn’t) then visiting the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville is a must.
The trail was completed in July 2000, but it took me until last weekend to “discover” it. All I can say is “wow.”
The trail takes cyclists and hikers through the heart of Leadville’s historic mining districts. You are just a few feet away from the mine dumps (the waste rock discarded from mine shafts), cribbing (the timbers used to shore up earth at or near the opening of mines) and a few dilapidated mining structures in California Gulch, where the discovery of gold led to the development of Leadville.
The journey gets more interesting as the trails winds through Fryer Hill and other knolls where some of the most productive mines in the silver era of the 1870s and 1880s were located. The trail offers a great view of the famous Matchless Mine, where Horace Tabor pulled so much silver out of the earth it helped make him a millionaire and where his widow, Baby Doe Tabor, supposedly froze to death as a pauper well after the silver crash.
Looking at the mines and their workings is thrilling enough, but the creators of the trail did a great job with historical signs that offer great detail on everything from the mines, and the railroads and smelters that served them, to the ranchers and merchants that fed and outfitted the bustling city.
There were more than a two dozen signs spaced along the 11.6-mile trail. I stopped at maybe half of them and rarely was disappointed by their content. It was heartbreaking, for example, to learn that the Blind Tom mine was named after one of countless burros that went blind after living and working 24/7 underground.
Another placard informed me that superstitious miners wouldn’t whistle underground, fearing it would chase off the good spirits that would protect them.
The trail itself provides decent exercise, but not a full workout on its own for a fit cyclist. It gains about 750 vertical feet on the loop, and counterclockwise seemed to provide the best workout. It can be ridden so it starts and ends in Leadville. For maps that include access points, go to http://www.mineralbelttrail.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Contact with two presumed positive COVID-19 cases has led to 65 students and staff at Basalt Elementary School transitioning to remote instruction.