Thursday, January 24, 2008

Leadville Snowshoe: Lower Mosquito Pass Road to County Road 3B

Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 10,900 ft -11,200 ft
Elevation gain: 300 ft
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Tags: #snowshoe, #leadville, #coloradooutdoors

Looking east towards the Mosquito Range from County Road 3B in Leadville CO 
Leadville is known for both wide open spaces and lots of snow.  That makes Leadville a great snowshoe destination.  One of the lesser known routes starts out on Mosquito Pass Road (County Road 3) and then turns south onto County Road 3B. The latter climbs sharply, which affords lovely views of the entire area.

Map of the area showing where the parking usually is and the turn onto County Road 3B
The parking area where the road is no longer plowed
County Road 3 makes a sharp right turn and crosses the Evans Gulch drainage.
Looking west down the drainage at snowy Mt. Massive 
To get to this snowshoe, take County Road 3 out of the middle of leadville and head east. This road is plowed but will most likely be snowpacked. Pass under the bridges for the Mineral Belt Trail and stop at the small parking are were the road is no longer plowed. While the berm indicating the spot may appear small don't go any further or you risk getting stuck until spring.

Snowmobile tracks
All of the mounds are mine tailings.
Cabin and tailings covered in snow
This area is frequented by snowmobiles, which can be an advantage. Their tracks will keep you on the road and not wandering off into one of the many mining ruins in the area. In winter these ruins are transformed into quaint Santa Claus villages.
Ruins, ruins, everywhere
Heading west on County Road 3B
On the map, County Road 3B turns off to the right at two locations, the first just after the road bends south. On this trip, that turn was under several feet of snow. Instead we continued on County Road 3 almost to the Diamond Mine before turning eastward.

Turning around and heading back down
Blue skies, Mt. Massive in the distance, and lots of happy snowshoers 
The reality, this area is crisscrossed by roads. Depending on the snow depth, all sorts of routes should be possible. One particularly scenic option is to just continue up County Road 3 (View Mosquito Pass Road Snowshoe). On that road, you can go all the way to the pass or turn around at any point.

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