From fast, flowing singletrack, to steep, technical rocky sections, there is something for everyone on the 13-mile out-and-back mountain bike ride on the Turquoise Lake Trail near Leadville. Located at 10,000-feet in the San Isabel National Forest and covering half the distance around the 780-acre lake, the ride starts at the Turquoise Lake dam and turns around at May Queen Campground.
From the unpaved parking area on the east side of the dam, begin by following the trail north along the shoreline over smooth terrain with little elevation change. Take in the views, but beware of campers and hikers who also use the trail. There are a couple of sections where the trail diverges through a maze of day use areas, but as long as riders stay close to the lake, the correct path will eventually present itself as it travels away from the campgrounds in the area.
As the trail turns toward the west it starts to undulate, and rocks scattered on the trail become progressively larger, testing one’s focus and bike handling ability. Steep ascents and descents through aspen and pine trees creep up often, but the view of the lake remains throughout. The trail then passes a pair of abandoned mines where gold and silver prospecting took place in the 1930s.
After 6.5 miles cyclists and hikers reach the campground at the shoreline of the lake. Across the lake to the east, a view of Leadville can be seen on a clear day.
Following the same trail back, it shifts from moderate to easier as the miles pass and the ride concludes back at the parking area near the dam.