Published with permission from the guide book: The Local’s Adventure Guide to Singletrack & Tarmac – Mountain Bike Trails and Road Rides in the Upper Arkansas River Valley by Nathan Ward.
The Twin Lakes to Half Moon Creek strip of the Colorado Trail traverses the flanks of Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft.), the highest peak in Colorado. The ride begins in the National Historic Townsite of Twin Lakes and climbs into the aspen groves above town. In mid-September this route glows with fallen aspen leaves and passes through golden corridors of aspens – definitely one of the best fall rides in the valley. It’s beautiful the rest of the year as well with views of Twin Lakes, Mt. Elbert and the Upper Arkansas Valley near Leadville. The trail is technically mellow enough that riders of all abilities can ride it. Be careful for the one difficult downhill that begins at mile 7.8. The solitude, beauty, climate and isolation make this a special ride.
Trailhead Access: Drive 20 miles north of Buena Vista on US 24, or 15 miles south of Leadville on US 24. Turn west on CO 82, following signs to Twin Lakes and Aspen. Drive 6.5 miles and park across from the General Store in the public lot. There are bathrooms. The historic General Store has water, snacks and drinks.
Location: Twin Lakes to Half Moon Road (Leadville)
Distance: 17.6 miles – out and back
Riding Time: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
b Paved 2.6, 3 Dirt Road.6, Singletrack 11.4
Aerobic Level: Moderate/Strenuous
Technical Difficulty: Intermediate – singletrack, some technical downhill
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 9,232; High Point 10,671; Climbs/Descends 3,270
Land Status: USFS, City/County, Private Land
Maps: Granite, Mount Massive
Options: Ride the trail one way and use a shuttle. Park a car at the Mount Massive Trailhead on the Half Moon Road. From Leadville take US 24 south 3.5 miles and turn right (west) on CO 300. Turn left on CR 11 after 0.8 mile, following signs to Half Moon Road. Drive 1.2 miles and turn right (west) on CR 110. The Mount Massive Trailhead is 5.5 miles up this road. Drive the other car and bikes to Twin Lakes and park at the public lot across from the General Store.
0.0 From the front of the General Store ride east on CO 82, the way you drove in.
1.3 Turn right on the unmarked faint singletrack that connects the paved road with the Colorado Trail/CDT. Ride about 25 yards and turn right through the tunnel beneath the highway. Continue on the singletrack.
1.6 Cross a dirt road and continue on singletrack slightly to your left. Ride about 50 yards and cross another dirt road. Continue on singletrack through a campground.
1.8 Cross a dirt road and continue.
2.0 T-intersection with a dirt road. Turn left and ride up the road. Always stay on the main road.
2.3 The road forks. Take the right hand road uphill.
2.7 Stay straight on the main road.
2.8 Stay straight on the main road.
3.2 Huge beaver ponds downhill to the left with a big view of Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft.).
3.3 Cross the creek.
3.6 Turn right on the Colorado Trail. This starts as a doubletrack road heading north. There are small signs at this intersection.
3.8 Cross a bridge over the creek and ride the singletrack. Cross another small bridge. The trail forks. Take the left trail toward Mt. Elbert.
4.1 Stay straight on the signed Colorado Trail as a trail to Mt. Elbert turns left. About 50 yards farther, the trail splits. Take the trail switchbacking sharply left.
5.5 Turn right downhill. Look for the Colorado Trail sign on the tree.
6.5 The trail splits. Take the left hand trail. The other trail goes to Lodgepole Flats.
6.7 Cross a bridge over Mill Creek.
7.0 Cross a creek with no bridge.
7.5 The second trail to Mt. Elbert switchbacks left. Stay straight.
7.8 As you top a ridge and pass a circle of rocks, get ready for a technical descent.
8.4 Follow the sign and ride straight ahead on the Colorado Trail North. The trail to the Mt. Elbert Trailhead drops to the right – don’t take it.
8.8 T-intersection with Half Moon Road. Turn around and ride the beautiful singletrack once again.
The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.
If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.
Bicycle riding is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or man made, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time under any situation. As a cyclist, we assume you know your personal abilities and limitations. This book represents nothing more than a guide to the trails and roads and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or in traffic, or your ability to ride a bicycle safely.
In addition, the mileages and routes listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and you may get lost. We recommend everyone uses a GPS and topographical map to navigate. Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the land owner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use. The same goes for wilderness areas which prohibit mountain bike riding. Neither the author, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All cyclists and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Ride at your own risk.
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