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 Inter-Laken Loop starts in the National Historic Townsite of Twin Lakes and circles the Twin Lakes Reservoir. The route offers excellent singletrack and views of the amazing alpine scenery around this historic area. The trail passes through the deserted resort town of Inter-Laken which experienced its glory days in the late 1800s. Several restored buildings still stand and it’s a great picnic spot. Twin Lakes is one of the prettiest spots in the entire valley.
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. This historic General Store has water, snacks and drinks.
Location: Twin Lakes – halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista
Distance: 14.5 mile – loop
Riding Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Paved 3.4, Singletrack 11.1
Aerobic Level: Moderate – several short steep uphills
Technical Difficulty: Intermediate – several short climbs and rocky descents
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 9,231; High Point 9,382; Climbs/Descends 626
Land Status: USFS, City/County, Private Land
Maps: Granite, Mount Elbert
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 left on the Colorado Trail.
1.9 Cross a paved road and continue on singletrack. There are Colorado Trail signs along this route.
2.4 Cross a paved road and continue on singletrack.
3.8 Cross a dirt road and continue on singletrack. Stay on the main trail.
5.1 Stay to the left of the dam on the signed CT. The trail used to go across the dam, but is not usually open now.
5.4 Cross the road directly and stay on the singletrack.
5.5 Pedal through the sand and up on the pavement. Cross the bridge.
5.6 Turn right off the pavement and back onto singletrack. Look for sign.
5.7 Cross the fence. You may be able to get your bike through. Otherwise, stop and lift it over. Follow the singletrack along the river that turns into a doubletrack road.
5.8 Intersect CR 25. Turn right and stay on the road around the south side of the dam.
6.1 Turn left on dirt road – this is the same road that used to go across the dam.
6.2-3 Continue straight on the large dirt road. Do not turn on any side roads.
6.7 Turn left on the signed Colorado Trail turns at a 45˚ angle. After 50 yards, pass through a wooden fence and sign the trail register.
8.0 The CDT switchbacks left. Continue riding straight on the Colorado Trail along the lake shore.
8.9 Enter Inter-Laken. There are several restored historic buildings, and interpretive signs tell the fascinating history of this late-1800s resort.
10.3 Cross a bridge and enter an aspen grove.
10.8 Cross a stream without a bridge.
11.4 Cross a wide path and continue on the singletrack. This is part of the Leadville 100 running race route.
11.7 Shallow creek crossing.
12.1 The technical section begins with steep short climbs.
12.4 The trail to Big and Little Willis Gulch switchbacks left. Continue straight – don’t take the switchback.
12.7 T-intersection into a wide trail. Turn right on this trail.
12.9 Cross a large bridge over the river. Twin Lakes residents say this is the start of the Arkansas River. Leadville residents say the headwaters lie higher on Fremont Pass. Turn right immediately after the bridge over some big rocks. This is the Willis Gulch Trailhead. Turn left on the dirt road.
13.0 Intersection with paved CO 82. Turn right and ride to Twin Lakes.
14.4 For more singletrack, turn right on this road. After about 50 yards, turn left on the singletrack that crosses the meadow east. This trail leads back to the parking area.
15.1 Back at the parking lot.
We want you to have a safe and enjoyable trip into Colorado’s backcountry. Be prepared it could be a long walk out. Be sure to read this list of equipment you should bring on your ride along with tips to make your biking trip more enjoyable.
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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