Hiking the Continental Divide Trail Near Leadville & Twin LakesAugust 11, 2023
Did you know that Leadville and Twin Lakes, Colorado, mark the “spiritual halfway point” of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)? Full of welcoming trail culture and alpine beauty, the area is an important milestone for long-distance hikers. It’s also a great place for a day hike.
What is the CDT?
The CDT spans over 3,100 miles, stretching from Canada to Mexico. Full of dramatic and wild landscapes, it traverses New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of the nation’s 11 National Scenic Trails. Following the Continental Divide, the CDT separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans.
On average, it takes about five months for thru-hikers to complete the entire CDT. Most divide the trail into segments to ensure they stay on track. A traditional halfway point is a common hiking milestone. Yet many CDT hikers focus on the “spiritual halfway point” as a goal for their hike’s first half.
What Is the Spiritual Halfway Point?
The “spiritual halfway point” of any trail honors a place with authentic trail culture. Leadville-Twin Lakes is incredibly hiker-friendly and knows a thing or two about trail culture.
It’s the birthplace of Melanzana outdoor clothing, Zero Day Coffee & Gear (founded by thru-hikers), and the Leadville Race Series featuring 100-mile races. For Southbound (SOBO) hikers, Leadville is very close to the actual halfway point. Each year, the area holds a September event for and by thru-hikers, called SOBO TRAIL DAZE.
As the highest-elevation city in North America, Leadville is the highest-elevation resupply point along the trail. Reaching 10,152′ is quite an accomplishment for CDT hikers. As they say, the trail is all downhill from there!
Leadville-Twin Lakes is also near many “14ers,” or 14,000′ peaks. The highest is Leadville’s Mount Elbert. Summiting Elbert is a common side quest for CDT thru-hikers.
Visiting Leadville & Twin Lakes Gateway Communities
Leadville and Twin Lakes are designated as Gateway Communities through the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. In this area, thru-hikers can rest, connect with other travelers, restock their supplies, and enjoy the scenery. You can also enjoy them if you are only hiking a few miles!
Both of these towns originated during the mining boom in the 1800s. Many of the iconic buildings have been restored, and visitors can enjoy plenty of fun things to do:
- Check out the history museums and guided tours.
- Explore the new Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument, which the trail passes through north of Leadville.
- Visit the Tabor Opera House.
- Walk, bike, or take a boat to the ghost resort Interlaken ghost resort or visit the Leadville National Fish Hatchery.
- Ride the Leadville scenic train.
- Go fishing.
- Set up camp at sites with amazing views.
- Find great places to eat and drink, places to stay, and places to shop.
- And much more!
Leadville and Twin Lakes are full of avid outdoor adventurers. You can often find residents on the trails in warm and cold months. Enjoy these welcoming communities.
Be sure to plan your stay at the “spiritual halfway point.” We will be waiting for you!